If you’re reading this article, chances are you live a tech-driven everyday life — at least up to a point.
Most of us use the internet to connect with friends, family, work and entertainment. Again, up to different points; even “analog” fans own a mobile phone or a laptop.
We can engage computers, smartphones, tablets and other internet-dependent devices to check our email, shop online, play games, browse through social media and more.
Almost every virtual stop in our routine requires a personal account. Be it Instagram, your online banking, or your food-for-home platform; each account requires you to share certain personal information online.
Your name, date of birth, address and payment info are the most commonly shared sensitive data on the web. If left unprotected, this data can fall victim to cybercriminals who then commit identity theft, financial fraud, or system compromise.
Personal cyber protection is the sequence of steps necessary to secure our vital data against all potential cyberthreats.
Let’s explore how to do that optimally.
Some people find updates irritating, especially if they require multiple operating system (OS) restarts to finish the update.
“Again? I just updated Windows two days ago!”
However, performing frequent updates means you’re regularly getting an improved version of the software on your devices. Programs, apps and OSs can all be exploited by cybercriminals, and updates strive to prevent that.
A software update can fix “bugs” in coding errors or security vulnerabilities to deny unauthorized third parties access to your device and personal data. Cybercriminals continuously aim to find and exploit new vulnerabilities, so it’s best to apply patches as soon as they’re issued. Automation is the quickest way to ensure that.
If you’re keen on the “set-and-forget” approach, you can turn on and confirm automatic updates on all devices and operational software. Moreover, you can set the automation to conveniently update your system (typically, at night, when you’re asleep).
Just make sure your device is plugged on and has enough storage space to apply the updates.
Multifactor authentication (MFA) can drastically improve the security of essential accounts. Using two or more steps to enable logins adds extra steps for potential intruders to go through. Even if they somehow crack your password, they’d also need to have access to your phone or access token.
Usually, MFA consists of up to three primary pieces:
· A PIN code, password or a secret phrase (a thing you know)
· A smartcard, authenticator app, physical token, email or SMS code (a thing you have)
· Facial recognition, fingerprints, or an iris scan (yourself as an authenticator)
Data backups are copies of your essential data (e.g., work files, photos, payment information) saved on an external physical storage device or in the cloud. Disk-image backups are copies of your entire system including the OS, applications, and data.
Full-image backups can serve for disaster recovery or help you migrate onto a new device.
It is recommended that you back up your device on a daily or weekly basis, depending on how much data you chose to lose if an unforeseen event happens. It is important to back up regularly and, preferably, automate the process.
Use of password managers
Modern passwords require you to develop a code of at least eight characters, mixing lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols. Usually, you can use a single character of every type, with special symbols making up half of the password (keep in mind, the most used special symbols in passcodes are %, &, #, @, and _, so maybe stay away from those).
However, remembering sophisticated passwords can be challenging, especially if you follow the rule not to use the same password twice. Conveniently, a password manager app can remember all of your passwords for you. Some subscription solutions even offer advanced features to up your passcode game.
Mobile device security
Smartphones are swiftly becoming the all-in-one solution for tech enthusiasts. You can work, shop, bank and even track your life balance through them.
If somebody steals or compromises your smartphone, they can access your online accounts, steal your identity, steal money from you and destroy the personal data you hold dear (e.g., photos, messages, notes).
What’s more, hackers can also use your phone to scam other people.
To best secure your mobile device, you should protect it with a password, PIN, or a passphrase. Additionally, set the device to lock after a short window of inactivity, install a software security app, enable remote data wiping, turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when out of use, and ensure your device doesn’t connect to open Wi-Fi networks automatically. It is also important that you back up your mobile device as well to ensure you never lose your previous photos, contacts, etc.
Use antivirus software
Keeping track of online threats is hard work if you do it alone. Instead, you can install antivirus software on all of your devices and leave the hassle to a paid solution.
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office lets you easily schedule data backups while detecting and stopping attacks in real time without the need for your constant attention. You can initiate antivirus scans, encrypt communication data, and secure logins intuitively through an all-in-one interface.
Learn the basics — what is a scam, phishing, a spear phishing attack, etc.?
The best way to identify and stop a malicious attempt on your system is to educate yourself on what an attack looks like and what to do.
Take the time to learn about scam emails and SMS messages demanding that you help a perceived friend or relative; phishing emails inviting you to share personal information with a “reputable” institution; and sophisticated attacks, such as spear phishing (designated to target specific individuals, businesses, or organizations).
The primary guidelines to battle phishing attacks are as follows:
· Don’t open emails from strangers.
· Hover over embedded links to see where they would lead you.
· Inspect all incoming emails — the sender’s email, grammar issues, and tone of voice.
· Malicious links could also come from friends’ emails if they have been compromised; make sure you read the email thoroughly before downloading any attachments or clicking on any links.
Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks
Carefully choosing how you use Wi-Fi networks is one of the oldest cybersecurity practices.
Public Wi-Fi networks often lack network protection, so your data is easy prey for virtual predators — especially when anyone can access the network and target data in transit.
If you must connect to public Wi-Fi network, install and use virtual private network (VPN) software. A VPN will encrypt all device data and effectively hide your IP.
Avoid clicking unknown links and visiting suspicious websites
“Free” software on the internet is rarely truly free. For decades, cybercriminals have been employing “free” programs and apps to trick users into downloading malware, thus infecting their devices.
While there is respected software that has been free from the dawn of the internet, you should avoid clicking on suspicious links and visiting questionable sites. Even if it turns out the site belongs to a beginner web designer, it’s best to stay away from sites you can’t properly vet.
Avoid using software and apps from unknown sources
Like untrustworthy links and sites, any software coming from an unknown source can be malicious. Even if it promises to save you the one-time fee for actually accessing the app, disguised malware can cost you dearly.
It’s best to download and install software only from reputable sources after you’ve made sure their download links are secure.
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office provides the ultimate in data protection
Every data protection strategy needs a strong antivirus. Even if you are mindful of your browsing habits, a cybersecurity solution adds extra layers of defense to foil snooping third parties.
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office (formerly Acronis True Image) blocks malicious attacks in real time without human supervision. You can also scan your device for existing infections, rid your system of them, and reduce the risk of data breaches and unwanted cyberattacks in the future.
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office provides a unique integration of reliable backup and cutting-edge anti-malware technologies that safeguard data against all of today’s threats — disk failure, accidental deletion, loss and theft, as well as cybercriminal attacks. PCMag described it as “an all-encompassing tragedy prevention solution” in their “Editor’s Choice” review.
With Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office, individuals and small businesses alike can back up their data — including OSs, applications, settings, files and Microsoft 365 accounts to local drives, external hard drives, NAS and the Acronis cloud. In addition, Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office stops cyberattacks — including attacks resulting from zero-day vulnerabilities — from harming both backup and device data with real-time protection, vulnerability assessment, on-demand antivirus scans, web-filtering, ransomware protection, and a cryptomining blocker. In case of a disaster, data can be easily recovered.