5 critical cybersecurity tips to keep everyone safe

These measures are essential for safeguarding oneself and one's family from potential cyber threats

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Nandini Sircar

Published: Sun 3 Sep 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 3 Sep 2023, 7:16 AM

The convenience offered by the digital realm is a two-edged sword, delivering unmatched ease while also necessitating heightened caution for those who embrace this new way of life.

Therefore, being cyber smart is no longer optional — it is essential for safeguarding oneself and one's family from potential cyber threats.

Here, we explore five critical cybersecurity tips that will help everyone stay safe in this digital world.

1. Protect your password

First and foremost, keep your passwords unique and strong. Ensure that you have different passwords for all your accounts. By doing so, even if an attacker manages to hack into one account, they will face greater difficulty in penetrating the rest. Given the numerous apps and websites we use, using a password manager becomes beneficial for efficient password management.

Whenever possible, it is highly recommended to enable two-factor authentication. This additional security measure is crucial as it adds an extra layer of protection to the login process. By combining something you know (such as a password) with something you have (like a one-time password) or something you are (such as a biometric scan), it significantly strengthens account security, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized access.

2. Protect your messaging apps

Today, messaging is much more than just e-mails and everyone will be utilizing WhatsApp, Messenger, and the messaging components in their social media apps. These channels are also utilized by attackers to spread malicious content.

Attackers exploit the fundamental behaviour that links are meant to be clicked and attachments are meant to be opened, and unlearning this behaviour and identifying what is potentially malicious can be tricky.

Be very careful when opening links or attachments from unknown senders as they could potentially execute malware the device or direct one to a phishing website. Additionally, make sure to check the actual email address of the sender, to ensure they are who they say they are.

If one does end up clicking a link, one must make sure not to provide any sensitive or financial information. Legitimate financial institutions will never request account details, passwords, or credit card information via email. Protect yourself from malicious attachments by regularly updating your software, utilizing antivirus software, and installing necessary patches.

3. Protect your social media accounts

A social media account taken over by hackers can be abused to damage your reputation, and for those who use it for business purposes, it can be held for a ransom payout or just used to infect your followers and friends. Always protect your social media accounts with unique passwords and multifactor authentication.

It is always recommended to review privacy settings to ensure one has control over who can access and view the content. Finally, think about the content itself and whether it could be used for illegitimate purposes. One might think it is harmless to post a picture of oneself abroad or on vacation, but this inadvertently gives away information about the location, whereabouts, and travel patterns, which can potentially be used for malicious purposes.

4. Protect your home

By 2025, it is estimated that as many as 30 billion connected devices, known as the Internet of Things (IoT), will surround us. While these devices have undoubtedly made our lives easier, they also introduce cybersecurity risks that need to be addressed.

A key issue is around the device lifecycle. IoT devices often stop receiving software updates while they are still in use, exposing vulnerabilities that hackers can take advantage of.

There are simple ways one can ensure that the home is protected. First of all, make sure to use a strong Wi-Fi standard, protecting access across the network. One should also ensure that devices are up to date with the latest versions of software is installed. If the smart TV is out of support and not receiving updates anymore, it may be a good idea to disconnect it from the network and simply use an external media player with current software support instead.

5. Educate your children

Young children are particularly vulnerable to social engineering, phishing attacks, and exposure to inappropriate content.

The most crucial step you, as a parent, can take, is to spend time educating and talking to your child about their online presence, what they do and what they see online

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on online safety for children, and many schools have implemented awareness programs in this area. However, safety begins at home, and parents have the responsibility to educate themselves and their children on best practices.

(Inputs by Nicolai Solling, Chief Technology Officer, Help AG)


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