Optimizing Your Home For Cybersecurity
Whether you’re a gamer, a remote worker, or just a social media maven, cybersecurity is a constant concern. The FTC currently receives millions of reports of identity theft each year. As such, many people give up on keeping themselves safe online. It doesn’t have to be this way. A few simple strategies can turn your home base into a fortress against cyber criminals. Here are six strategies to get you started.
- Deploy Antivirus and Firewall Systems
Your first line of defense will always be your antivirus software. Thankfully, many high-quality antivirus programs are free, so there’s little reason to postpone installing them. Defensive programs are also scalable, with many possible upgrades. One in particular that you should consider is a firewall. Network firewall security systems monitor incoming emails and flag anything suspicious. Since email is a leading vector for ransomware scams, adding a firewall can be beneficial, specifically if you deal with a high volume of communications. Find the combination that suits the needs of your network.
- Encrypt Data at All Levels
Data is the ultimate prize for cybercriminals, so encrypt your data at all points. Start with your drives. Windows currently has BitLocker as an option for hard drive encryption, and encrypted external hard drives are also available. Often, flash drives come with several security options, including rigorous encryption and biometric locking.
Encryption doesn’t end with data storage. Certain telecom apps like WhatsApp have end-to-end encryption for data in transit. Using a virtual private network (VPN) can also prevent third parties from accessing your information, but in this case, the information is only encrypted between your device and the VPN’s server. Any layer of protection you can add is advantageous.
- Create Stronger Passwords
Research reveals that many data breaches can be attributed to weak or compromised passwords. Build better ones using science. The most effective passwords combine letters, numbers, and symbols. How they’re put together is equally vital. Letters should be a mixture of capitalized and lowercase. Ideally, the code should be at least 12 characters in length. Resist the urge to make your password something unique to yourself. Keeping personal facts hidden is critical to safeguarding your digital identity.
- Update Software and Hardware
Downloading updates is often a pain. Updates can be time-consuming and cause system glitches. On the other hand, those updates typically include patches for emerging threats to operating systems. Schedule a convenient time to download that won’t interfere with any current tasks. Research the update before you commit to it. Remember, too, that obsolete hardware is easier for criminals to compromise, so take a holistic approach to updating your technology.
- Stay Away from Public Wi-Fi
Many people work and play on the go these days. Even so, using your local coffee shop’s Wi-Fi can be a costly error. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are often woefully under-protected. Some of the establishments hosting them don’t even have fundamental password protection. Those that do tend to give the passwords to anyone who asks. Consequently, anyone lurking on that network can access your information with the correct techniques. If you must use public connections, wait until you get home to enter personal financial information or engage in transactions. Don’t be paranoid, be wary.
- Learn About the Latest Scams
Ultimately, information is your most effective weapon against scammers. Many varieties of cybercrime require zero technical skill on the part of the criminal, instead relying on so-called “social engineering” tactics. Phishing scams, where victims are tricked into handing over personal information, are a perfect example. Peruse a security magazine and see what the experts say regarding the latest vulnerabilities and exploits. Learning how attacks work and why they work keeps you one step ahead of threats.
Cybercrime is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean it’s unavoidable. Consistently deploying a few key tactics will keep your operations safe. Keep these strategies in mind when formulating a comprehensive home cybersecurity plan.