Cyber threats have escalated in both numbers and complexity with the increasing sophistication of tools and techniques used by criminals over the recent years. As research and studies have drawn much attention to growing threats to online safety, organizations and governments have worked tirelessly to strengthen security infrastructure and build new ammunition against cyber threats. However, taking necessary measures to ensure personal safety is also the responsibility of each individual.
Here are our top 10 cybersecurity tips to safeguard your online data and privacy by protecting yourself from cybercriminals.
1. Email safety
According to research, 94% of malware attacks were executed via emails. Phishing attacks and email scams have gained traction over the years, making it even more critical to act with caution when opening and responding to emails. Therefore, remain alert of especially those requesting for verification of personal details, which often impersonate a known individual or a reputed organization such as a bank. And if you come across any suspicious emails, perform a reverse email search using a people search site such as Nuwber or directly reach out to the individual if you already know their contact number.
2. Think twice before clicking
Today, over 90% of data breaches are initiated with a click. Evidence is clearly mounting on the use of click baits for cyberattacks on both individuals and organizations. These could often download malicious viruses or even take you to unscrupulous websites impersonating those of reputed organizations to mislead you into divulging personal information. Therefore, guard yourself against unknown links shared through emails, text messages or even on websites and blogs.
3. Password protection
Strong and secure passwords are an essential step to protect your data, personal accounts, and devices from a malicious attack. Maintain separate unique passwords for each requirement and ensure that they are changed periodically for added security.
A reputed password manager software or app could provide you with the convenience of storing and managing several passwords and thereby eliminate the need for memorizing or keeping written records.
4. Mindful sharing
As technology has created boundless opportunities for networking and social sharing with millions of people across the globe, mindless oversharing has blurred the lines of privacy and security. Exercising caution on social platforms, therefore, is pivotal with regards to what you share and with whom. Re-examine your privacy settings and be selective of who you allow into your network of friends.
5. Guard against physical theft
Physical theft of devices could equally compromise your data as would an online security breach. Especially your laptop and mobile phone could contain a staggering amount of sensitive information that could compromise your safety when placed in the wrong hands.
Therefore, protect your devices from physical theft and make effective use of any in-build security features such as password protection, fingerprint scans, and face-recognitions.
6. Malicious downloads
The downloading of malware and spyware to your devices could be triggered through an email attachment or even with content downloads from a website. Once downloaded on to a device, these malicious files could extract personal data, monitor and transmit your activities and even execute a hostile takeover demanding ransom. Therefore, avoid any suspicious or unnecessary downloads, and scan documents with anti-virus software prior to opening.
7. Browser safety
Browsers often track and store user online behavior and could compromise your privacy in the event of a security breach. Therefore, disabling these tracking features such as auto sign-in, auto-fill, and options to save payment methods and passwords is a critical step to safeguard your privacy and security.
Further, deleting search history, cookies, and cached files should also be carried out regularly to remove any stored data that could divulge your online activities.
8. Anti-virus guards
Installing reputed anti-virus software is another essential step to guard against a malicious cyberattack. These can monitor and identify potential threats to your devices and function as a shield against possible infiltrations. They can caution you about unsecured websites prevent click bait-based advert pop-ups and even support you with a backup function to protect your data in the event of an attack.
9. App safety
The apps downloaded to your mobile devices could pose a significant threat to your data security if left unguarded. Unknown to you, apps could track personal data such as contact lists, messages, location, and even real-time browsing activities, and share with third-parties. Minimizing apps to the most essential and avoiding third-party apps are important practices for your mobile security.
10. Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network could shield your online activities from cybercriminals by routing your traffic through various servers. This can allow you to remain anonymous and provide you with the necessary protection to avoid being tracked and easily targeted for criminal activities.