People know they should protect their physical valuables with locks and alarms, but when it comes to cybersecurity, most find themselves a little lost. This isn’t surprising, as the systems and terms used in the cybersecurity industry, like ransomware, DDoS attack, VPN, or hashing, can be hard to grasp at first. This guide provides a quick outline of the most important concepts in cybersecurity that everyone needs to know.
Necessity is a powerful driving force, and cybersecurity has become an essential part of the current digital landscape. The number of threats out there has multiplied and evolved into a dangerous network that keeps growing every day. If through nothing else, this is evident by the huge increase in data breaches and cyber attacks directed at businesses.
Cyber attacks aren’t just directed at businesses, however. Every single person who owns a digital device is at risk of becoming a victim of a cyber attack. Which has made it essential that everyone gets a little more acquainted with at least basic cybersecurity measures.
Why Cybersecurity is for Everyone
Almost no one goes anywhere without their smartphones these days, not even to the bathroom. People store valuable data on their digital devices, like banking details and social security numbers. Even the occasional private photo. Imagine all of that getting into the wrong hands and being used for blackmail or credit card theft. This isn’t a “what if” scenario either – it’s happening across the world every day. Which means that cyber safety is not just for tech-savvy people. It’s for everyone.
Cybersecurity may seem complicated – and it can be – but it isn’t necessary to know everything about it. Just like it isn’t necessary to know exactly how a safe’s mechanisms work to be able to use it. It’s just important to know that it works.
Fundamental concepts, like those outlined further in this article, are easy enough to learn; they’re also important enough that everyone who uses digital devices should know about them.
The 4 Most Common Cyber Attacks
Most people will face at least one cyberattack throughout their lives, either at home or at work. These attacks range from deceitful email messages to invasive software that steals data and takes over the device. These attacks are launched for different reasons. Some people are looking for ways to steal or ransom off money. Others just do it for fun and to see if they can get away with it.
The four most common attacks are:
Phishing. This is one of the most widespread cyber attacks out there since it’s so easy to implement. Phishing attacks can involve messages on any platform, from social media to gaming forums. A phishing attack can either be targeted at specific people ( spear phishing) or a more general scam. Usually, these involve a ploy to get the reader to click on something, download something, or reveal sensitive information.
Malware. Malware comes in many forms, but the term refers to any type of software that infiltrates a device or network. This malicious software can be delivered in different ways, like disguising it to look like legitimate software, or through other infected files or devices.
Brute Force Attacks. These attacks are also very prevalent and involve a hacker attempting to guess login credentials. It’s an automated process and usually involves popular/weak passwords. This type of attack often also uses credentials that have been stolen in data breaches.
Eavesdropping Attacks. Sometimes hackers try to eavesdrop on a network connection by intercepting the data that’s going through it. Eavesdroppers can “listen in” and steal any data that is sent over the network at any given time. And that could include things like your credit card details, passwords, and other personal data.
Hackers and scammers don’t differentiate between personal and work devices. They only care about snaring someone into their trap. Which means a well-rounded approach is necessary when defending against these types of attacks.
The following three areas should always be covered when implementing any cybersecurity tools and tactics.
Taking Care of Business With Cybersecurity in the Workplace
Whether the company you work for has an IT department that handles security or not, you need to do your part too. An IT department can only do so much to keep the business’s network and systems safe, and they don’t have control over what people do online. Especially when it comes to their personal devices.
A business will always only be secure through the collective efforts of the people that work there. Protect your employees and co-workers by informing them about the dangers they face and share some cybersecurity tips:
– Do not reply to emails that look the least bit suspicious. Similarly, don’t click on links or download files from unknown sources.
– Use strong passwords on all devices and accounts, and turn on additional authentication methods (like 2FA) where possible.
– Make sure the devices that handle important work data have firewalls installed on them and that they are always up to date.
– Talk to the IT department about security. They’ll often be more than happy to provide tips and do’s and don’ts. If the company doesn’t have cybersecurity policies in place, then it might be a good idea to talk to them about that too.
Cybersecurity: Securing The Home
Security at home isn’t just about installing locks and setting up a surveillance camera. Protecting your home network is just as important, as more and more devices are connecting to the internet – from your TV to your fridge.
These devices usually aren’t secure themselves, so they rely on the homeowner to secure the whole network. Printers and security cameras getting hacked is nothing new anymore. Luckily there are ways to protect your home devices:
– Secure the home network from eavesdropping attacks by using encryption. The easiest and most affordable way to get this done is through a VPN. Just make sure to either install the service on the home router or on all of the devices that connect to the network.
– Buy and install a good firewall program. This is the first line of defense against attacks and will protect against unwanted network requests from outsiders.
– Change the default passwords on any device that connects to the internet, especially security cameras and baby monitors.
It’s a Matter of Personal Security
Cybersecurity doesn’t stop at home or your workplace – it’s a personal matter too. People carry connected devices like smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches with them every day, and these need to be protected too.
You should take a look at every personal device you own and assess how secure they are. Here are some things to keep in mind:
– Do not download software or apps from an unknown or untrusted source, even if they look legitimate.
– Keep the number of apps and programs on a device to a minimum and delete those that aren’t in use.
– Make sure that you update your apps and software regularly to avoid any security issues that may come up.
– Use additional security software like antivirus, email encryption software, and a password manager.
– Always set up password protection and “find my device” where possible.
Keeping Up With Cybersecurity
Staying secure means implementing basic cybersecurity principles in every facet of your digital life. This guide can help a lot, but it’s only the starting point. It’s essential to always keep up to date with the latest trends in cybersecurity for a truly secure lifestyle.