Cyber hygiene refers to the actions people take to improve cyber security and maintain system health. A great way to help you understand is to think of it as a personal hygiene practice for your computer and online data.
Similar to brushing your teeth to maintaining personal hygiene, there are best practices for maintaining cyber hygiene.
Without realizing it, we store vast amounts of data online and on digital devices. Thus, enhancing online security and maintaining system health are vital to protect potential victims of identity theft and protect against other serious cybercrimes.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to some cyber hygiene practices to keep your online data and computer systems safe.
1. Make sure the application software is up to date
Any software flaws or cyber threats are fixed every time the app is updated. This is done using software patches, also called security patches. Simply put, a software patch is a piece of software that is used to change computer programming and fix software defects.
Developers install software patches when they discover flaws that could allow hackers to access data or allow viruses to enter. If you don’t regularly update apps on computers and mobile devices, such cyber threats can cause problems and put your data at risk.
It’s important to note, however, that app developers don’t always stress the importance of updating. This can alert hackers and force them to act quickly before users update their systems. So, don’t ignore the notifications that prompt you to update the app.
Try to update your apps as soon as you get a notification or an update becomes available. It’s also good practice to check your apps regularly in case you might have missed an update. Or you can set your applications, web browsers, and operating systems to update automatically. As shown below, most applications and operating systems have a feature that allows you to do this.
Finally, it’s also a good cyber hygiene practice to delete apps from your device that you no longer use. Even if you haven’t used the app for a long time, you still have data stored on the server that can be hacked in the event of a cyber attack.
2. Backup the data to the secondary source
Another helpful cyber hygiene tip is to back up your files and data to a secondary source. This includes backing up your files and storing them in a safe alternative location.
Many data are now stored online in cloud-based storage systems such as Google Drive. If you know about SaaS marketing, you know about cloud storage. Cloud storage allows users to access their files on all devices. computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. While cloud storage is convenient because file encryption makes servers harder to hack, you should keep at least one offline copy of your files.
Another solution to keep your online files safe is to store them on a local computer or external hard drive. This can also reduce server response time as files will be accessed directly from the hard drive instead of over the internet.
An external hard drive is a secure storage system because it can only be hacked when it is connected to a computer or the Internet. To minimize the risk of hackers, only turn the drive on when saving files, and be sure to turn it off after the files are saved.
However, physical storage devices such as external hard drives, memory sticks, and thumb drives can be easily lost or damaged, so it’s important to keep them safe.
3. Prevent unauthorized access through Firewall
Using a firewall to prevent unauthorized access is another way to maintain good cyber hygiene and prevent security breaches. There are two types of firewall: network firewall and computer firewall. A firewall can protect an entire network of computers, while a computer firewall protects an individual device.
A network firewall monitors all incoming and outgoing traffic on your network and all connected devices. It then defines the type of traffic that is allowed to enter. The firewall then acts as a security device to prevent unauthorized access to your network.
The ability to protect multiple devices makes firewalls perfect for places like offices and schools. Many people use these networks, so an effective network firewall is essential to keep everyone’s data safe.
Although a network firewall allows you to protect multiple computers at the same time, computer firewalls can provide additional protection. Host-based firewalls can also be used as antivirus software to detect viruses and malware and prevent them from infecting your computer.
So it might be worth having both a network firewall and a computer firewall to give your device extra protection for your network and personal devices.
4. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication offers an extra layer of protection for your devices and online accounts. The most common method of authentication is the use of complex passwords or PINs. As long as no one else has access to them and you use strong passwords and PINs, they provide some level of protection.
However, if your bank’s online banking system is hacked, for example, a hacker can now access your password or PIN. So setting up multi-factor authentication for your devices and accounts is important.
Following the example of banks, most online banking systems include a feature where a unique code is sent to your mobile phone. This is a secondary authentication factor for password changes or large banking transactions.
As technology advances, more and more authentication methods become available. Biometric authentication, which uses facial or fingerprint recognition, has become very popular in recent years.
Facial recognition was previously limited to mobile devices. But many other platforms now also use biometrics as an additional authentication method. Some laptops, social media platforms and online banking systems now use biometric locks.
Cyber hygiene is becoming increasingly important as cybercrime becomes more common.
So, to improve cyber security, you need to implement best practices to keep your important data safe and your network secure.
Update all apps regularly to prevent potential malware or data loss. Back up your data and store the backup on a secondary source as well.
Additionally, you should use a firewall to prevent unauthorized access to your data and online accounts. Finally, you can use multi-factor authentication to provide an extra layer of security for your data.
So there you have it. Stick to these cybersecurity practices, create a solid cyber hygiene policy, and your data should be safe.