It’s no secret that cybercriminals have grown confident in the last few years. Data breaches have taken the corporate world by storm, malware infections have left many users defenseless, and the Internet has become a playground for hackers. This situation has only been exacerbated with the increase in people working from home in light of the COVID pandemic.
One can argue that COVID is to blame for 2020’s staggering amount of cyber-attacks. Sonicwall reported that malware attacks in the United States have doubled this year. This is because cybercriminals understand the advantage the pandemic has given them: people inexperienced with digital threats leaning heavily into online productivity tools.
To prevent malicious parties from exploiting this weakness, it’s important for you to practice proper cybersecurity.
But how? Fortunately, there are no shortage of ways to defend against cyber-attacks and protect yourself against any hacker that comes your way.
5 Security Tips to Combat Cyber-Attacks
1. Encrypt Your Network
Most people don’t realize the risks they run when surfing the Internet. They log on, do whatever they need to do, log off, and repeat about a dozen-or-so times per day. But the Internet houses many horrors, including cybercriminals, malware, and much more.
Something as innocuous as reading an article from your favorite website can put you at risk, especially if your Internet connection is unencrypted. Cybercriminals can watch your activity, intercept your data, and steal your personal information if they were to find one backdoor.
To keep this from happening, you should protect yourself with a VPN. A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts your online traffic, making it near-impossible for cybercriminals to steal your data.
Other tools are also available but can lead to other problems. For example, the TOR browser can effectively encrypt your traffic but significantly hampers your connection speed. Proxy servers allow you to stay anonymous, but there’s no telling whether or not the proxy server provider is collecting your data or not. Plus, not all proxies actually encrypt your network.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Passwords act as your first—and sometimes last—line of defense for your information. Think about it. People use passwords for everything: finances, personal information, media entertainment, etc. And if a cybercriminal were to ever find your passwords, your information and even your entire identity could be at risk.
This is why it’s important to use strong passwords for every account you have such as using a mix of special characters, capitalizations, letters, and numbers. Granted, keeping up with every single strong password you have can get overwhelming, and it’s tempting to stick with weak passwords. If this sounds like you, use a password manager.
Point is, strong passwords will go far in protecting all of your accounts.
3. Minimize Access to Your Network
Speaking of passwords, how’s your network looking? Encrypting your network or the devices on your network will significantly improve your network security, but you need to go even farther; you need to lock up your network to limit access to everyone but you and the people you trust. Otherwise, hackers will be able to easily access your network.
Modern gateways/routers/modems make this an easy process. You simply login to your network account through the given gateway address, find the security settings, and adjust what you need. Blacklisting and using a secure password will take you far security-wise (and don’t bother hiding your SSID).
4. Update Your Software
Mandatory updates that occur at random times have a way of killing any joy a person may feel towards that software (for example: Windows updates). But while these updates are annoying and tedious, they’re essential. See, many software patches, hotfixes, and bugs include security fixes. If you go without updating your devices, you miss out on these security fixes, meaning hackers will have an easier time hacking you.
Updating your devices regularly and checking for updates about once or twice a week will help you keep your devices secure.
5. Practice Proper Cybersecurity Etiquette
Many on the Internet think themselves invincible—that they don’t need to take care about their security because they definitely won’t fall victim to the latest data breach or ransomware attack. This mindset always leads to danger.
Practice proper cybersecurity etiquette. Practice, practice, practice. No one is invincible on the Internet, and cybercriminals know that. Take some time to read up on how to better protect yourself (like you’ve done here) and take the advice of cybersecurity experts.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused harm to the entire world, not just in the real world, but in the digital realm as well. Cybercriminals grow more knowledgeable day after day, and it’s up to users to protect themselves. With these tips, you’ll have a great starting point for your security.