Welcome to one of the most important, and soon to be globally recognized, holidays.
November 30 is Computer Security Day, a day created way back in 1988 that is used to remind the public of the importance of protecting themselves while online.
We’ve all seen the enticing email from a prince offering to grant us access to his fortunes in exchange for your bank account information; this day gives kudos to cybersecurity professionals who work to protect us every day. In their honor, and in commemoration of this important day, we’ve rounded up our top tips to stay safe on your computer.
Top Tips for Computer Security Day:
- If You Installed It, Update it! If You Didn’t, Remove It.
Keeping both the operating system and applications up to date can prevent the vast majority of cybersecurity breaches from happening. Many of these recent compromises can be attributed to not updating third party software, such as Adobe Reader, Flash, QuickTime or Java. It’s important to update this software whenever a new version is available.
Along those same lines, if you have an application installed that was helpful two years ago, but hasn’t been used since, take the time to remove it. Much like the had-to-have fashion of yester year, at some point, it has to be sold, donated and maybe even burned for ever having existed in the first place.
- Make Your Passwords Difficult
Despite the numerous technological advancements in the past several decades, most sensitive sites such as banks, insurance, retirement accounts, etc. only use passwords to verify and authenticate the account. Each year, a study is published listing the most common passwords used and they include some of the following:
A good rule of thumb when creating passwords is to use 16 digits that contain alpha-numeric and special characters. In addition, many cybersecurity professionals recommend using a phrase and swapping out some of the letters for numbers and characters. For example, “I love cybersecurity pros,” transposed into something like the following:
- Back Up Your Data
This year has seen an increase of ransomware (malicious software designed to encrypt all of your data, and block access to it, until you pay a hefty sum for a decryption key), and maintaining regular backups of your data can minimize potential issues or losses. Backups should be thoroughly protected, encrypted and done at least weekly, if not daily. Doing so ensures that recovering data or a system from a known good status can be done when needed.
- Don’t Just Open That Attachment or Click the Link
Phishing (attempting to obtain sensitive information such as usernames or passwords via electronic communication) is considered one of the top attacks used by cybercriminals. Prior to opening an attachment or clicking a link in an email, take the time to validate the person, group or company that sent it. Grammar and spelling mistakes in an email can be a good indicator of a potential phishing attempt.