7 Steps to Improved Cybersecurity

Imagine waking up one morning and realizing that a cybercriminal has gained access to your bank account and credit cards. You discover you've been hacked and sensitive personal information stolen. How can you improve Cybersecurity?

Imagine waking up one morning and realizing that a cybercriminal has gained access to your bank account and credit cards. You discover you’ve been hacked and sensitive personal information stolen. How can you improve Cybersecurity?

How difficult would it be to recover your hard-earned savings? What if someone was using your identity to secure loans in your name?

The Importance of Cybersecurity

There has been a substantial increase in cybercrime during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some estimates put the increase as high as 600%.

That’s a scary number!

Sony suffered a particularly bad cyber attack back in 2014.

The most popular methods of attack include sophisticated phishing email schemes and malicious actors posing as members of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Regardless of the modus operandi, you need to protect yourself online – Cybersecurity is really important. Don’t be a victim. In this article, we examine 9 simple steps you can take to improve your cybersecurity.

1. Uninstall Apps You No Longer Use

Applications provide routes into your data and hackers love to exploit their vulnerabilities, especially when they are not being kept up-to-date.

Many applications collect and share information obtained from the devices they are installed on. Simply put, the fewer applications you have installed, the less the likelihood of one harvesting your data.

If you’re not using an application – uninstall it!

The added benefit is that you will also free up valuable memory and possibly speed up the device.

2. Limit Social Media Sharing

Many of us love to share our lives on social media. Addicted to the adrenalin rush of an endless feedback loop and likes! The reality is, however, that you are putting yourself at risk when over-sharing on social media.

Oversharing on social media provides criminals with the information they need for a potential cyberattack.

It is difficult, but try to avoid posting sensitive personal information online.

This includes obvious things such as your address, phone number, date of birth, education, and previous names.

But also any information that might be used in answers to common account questions.

Never reveal your vacation plans either, as this could be an opportune time for cybercriminals to strike whilst you are distracted and possibly not otherwise contactable.

If you haven’t done so already, make a quick audit of your social media sharing. Remove any media – including movies and images – that contain sensitive personal information. You may be surprised what a cybercriminal can do with seemingly innocent family memories!

3. Keep Your Devices Updated

Keeping all of your devices up-to-date is an important step in fighting cybercrime and improving your cybersecurity.

Once software companies hear about new attacks they patch their software to counter the threat and close the security loophole.

Only by keeping your device’s operating systems and apps up to date can you ensure that you are protected against the latest threats.

Try to switch on automatic updates where possible, so that you do not need to remember to manually update each and every app.

4. Update Privacy Settings to Improve Cybersecurity

Most software, including applications and websites, contains a number of privacy settings. The default settings are not always the best for your privacy, as app developers have a vested interest in sharing your data.

Your data is valuable for legitimate reasons as well as illegitimate ones!

Update your privacy settings and limit the data that can be collected from your devices.

When you first install apps or set up accounts it is not always obvious exactly what you are sharing. Check settings and ‘opt-out’ of data sharing where possible.

Try a web search for the specific app that you are concerned about, adding the words privacy settings. This should provide you with the exact steps needed to make the changes.

5. Strengthen Login Credentials

Many of us are guilty of this: using the same login credentials (or variations of them) for all our accounts. We can be forgiven, in part, given the number of passwords we need to remember. But by using a single password, you put all of your accounts at risk.

Ideally, you should have unique and strong passwords for each and every account. Particularly those that are especially sensitive. Your passwords should be complex and contain a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.

Consider using a password manager app, in combination with an auto-generated password. Complex passwords can be suggested and auto-generated by most popular operating systems and browsers.

Whilst the passwords themselves may be impossible to remember; in combination with a password manager, they offer a highly secure solution.

Never write down your passwords or store them insecurely on a disk or network drive.

If any of your accounts provide multi-factor authentication then use it. The added inconvenience is worth it!

Typically, you will be provided with a password or pin number and authenticate using a separate device, such as Google Authenticator or via text message SMS.

Take these simple steps to improve your cybersecurity.

6. Install Malware Protection

Always run virus protection and anti-malware on all of your devices. This is software provided by specialist companies, or as a part of the operating system – such as Microsoft Windows Defender. It can really improve your cybersecurity.

Periodic scans of installed applications should identify installed malware and resolve vulnerabilities.

Your device settings should be set to automatically check and resolve issues for you. Keeping your devices up-to-date will ensure that you have the latest information about new and emerging threats.

7. Know Who You Are Communicating With

Know who you are communicating with at all times.

Having obtained a sufficient amount of personal data about you and your family, cybercriminals can then use this to target you in a scam.

So-called, impersonation scams, can be simple or elaborate. They have one thing in common – they imply trust through obtained personal knowledge.

One example might be a bank manager who calls about the loan you recently took out and mentions that he plays tennis with your colleague from your place of work. Next thing you are providing all the information he needs to access your account.

Cybercriminals will do anything to gain your trust, including impersonating people you may be associated with or claiming to have shared interests or mutual friends.

Always know who you are communicating with!

Final Thoughts On Cybersecurity

Cybercrime presents a real and present danger to you and your family. And has been on the increase during the Pandemic. The cost of an attack can be a significant financial burden and also emotionally draining.

Take the seven simple steps outlined in this guide to improve your cybersecurity and prevent yourself from becoming the next victim.

Stay safe online!