One of the unintentional byproducts of living in such a technologically advanced world is that is that people’s personal, professional and financial information has become much more vulnerable. The sophisticated level of technology that allows confidential and sensitive information to be stored online is the very same technology that puts this information at risk of being infiltrated. It’s important for everyone who logs on to a computer to understand the value of good cyber security practices.
The levels of cyber security range from quick, free and easy to highly sophisticated and expensive. The most common cyber security breaches are caused by simple human carelessness or ignorance, though, and don’t require anything more than several practical shifts in habit. Here are some low-cost cyber security tips and practices that anyone can use to increase their online protection:
Low Cost Example #1:
Be password savvy. For each of your accounts or memberships, make sure to create complex passwords that do not contain common dictionary words. Change your passwords periodically and be sure never to share passwords with anyone. Be aware of any automatically stored passwords, especially on shared computers.
Low Cost Example #2:
Get rid of unused and unnecessary programs on your computer. Every program that’s loaded onto a computer can be vulnerable to attack. If you have Windows, use the Add/Remove Programs feature to unload components, services and programs that you do not need or use. The fewer programs on your computer, the safer you are.
Low Cost Example #3:
Email scams have become more and more believable and persuasive. Never open a link or attachment from an unknown address or that you are not expecting. Any email that asks for information such as account numbers, passwords or other identifying information should be regarded suspiciously.
Low Cost Example #4:
Don’t ignore updating, especially with your antivirus software. It should update automatically, but still check this often. Make sure to use only the latest updated versions of your operating system and browser as well; the outdated versions make easy targets.
Low Cost Example #5:
Watch out for sneaky URLs. Pay close attention to the website URLs of the website you frequent. The malicious ones will often use a slight variation in spelling or domain as a prime means of cyber deception.
Low Cost Example #6:
When using social media, chat sites and other interactive forums, limit the information you reveal and use the highest possible security settings.
Low Cost Example #7:
Protect your portable devices like your smart phone and/or tablet with a secure password. These devices contain a treasure trove of personal information such as text messages, emails and contact lists. In the wrong hands, this data becomes a very serious cyber security risk.
Technology has become so easily available and accessible that now more than ever before it’s imperative for people to be proactive and take the initiative in managing their online lives and reputations. There are many practical and low cost cyber security practices that anyone can use to better protect the information they have stored online. Individuals seeking more extensive and sophisticated knowledge on this topic may want to consider pursuing an MS in Information Technology Cyber Security from an accredited institution.