As cyber-attacks and their consequences grow, the imperative for cybersecurity and resilience is becoming increasingly important, not just to homeland security, but businesses, schools and individuals.
Attackers use a variety of vulnerabilities and phishing attacks to compromise the security of networks and devices. To approach this threat effectively and protect your networks, it is even more necessary to become familiar with cyber essentials.
Simple tips to keep you safe:
- Be aware of risk. Be aware of possible risk such as malware, viruses, ransomware and phishing. It's also important for everyone in your organization to be aware of the possible risk and threats that could occur should your systems become affected by any of these threats.
- Keep devices and antivirus software updated. When your computer or mobile device indicates that there is a current version of the operating system (OS) available, update as soon as possible. More often than not, these updates contain fixes for critical security flaws. Install and update antivirus software on your devices.
- Secure your networks. Secure your network by using a firewall and encrypting information. For home Wi-Fi, enable WPA encryption and set a secure password. Update your router’s default administrator password and remember to apply updates to your router as well.
- Avoid unsecured public wi-fi. When traveling, opt to use your mobile network rather than public Wi-Fi provided through a hotel or coffee shop if a VPN is not available. When possible, connect through a VPN.
- Use strong passwords. Creating strong passwords is an easy way to improve your cyber security. Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites, which can prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts.
- Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media and any other service that requires logging in. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device, such as your smartphone, an authenticator app, or a secure token—a small physical device that can hook onto your key ring.
- Play hard to get with strangers. Links in emails and online posts are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If you’re unsure who an email is from—even if the details appear accurate—do not respond, and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. Be cautious of generic greetings such as “Hello Bank Customer,” as these are often signs of phishing attempts. If you are concerned about the legitimacy of an email, call the company directly.
- Think before you act. Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately. Many phishing emails attempt to create a sense of urgency, causing the recipient to fear their account or information is in jeopardy. If you receive a suspicious email that appears to be from someone you know, reach out to that person directly on a separate secure platform. If the email comes from an organization but still looks “phishy,” reach out to them via customer service to verify the communication.
- Protect your personal information. If people contacting you have key details from your life—your job title, multiple email addresses, full name and more that you may have published online somewhere—they can attempt a direct spear-phishing attack on you. Cyber criminals can also use social engineering with these details to try to manipulate you into skipping normal security protocols.
Check out Busey's Money Matters blog for additional information on security-related topics.