There were more ransomware attacks in the first nine months of 2023 than in all of 2022. With cybercrime on the rise, protecting your data and devices from malicious attacks is more important than ever. Whether you’re at work, on the go, or just scrolling on your phone at home, here are some simple measures you can use to prevent cyberattacks:
1. Install Software Security on Your Devices
You may not be able to monitor your devices 24/7 for security threats, but an anti-virus or anti-malware software can. Once it’s installed, the software security will regularly scan your files for threats and check for suspicious activity when you go online. If any risk is detected, it will warn you and work to remove it from your device. Companies like Norton, TrendMicro, and McAfee have also created security apps that you can download on your electronic devices for increased protection on the go.
2. Regularly Update Your Passwords
When was the last time you updated your device password or passcode? Do you even remember passwords for email and apps that are always open? If you can’t, it’s time to update. By regularly changing the passwords to your email, online accounts, apps, and devices, you make it tougher for hackers to gain access. Pro tip: Don’t use the same password for all accounts and don’t reuse old passwords. Make original, strong passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
3. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication provides an extra security checkpoint for your email, password storage, bank account, or any other accounts with personal information. The goal is to verify your identity before login by sending you a text message, calling your phone, or sending an email to a secondary email account. Each message will come with a unique code that you must enter before you can log in. This extra step can prevent hackers from accessing your valuable information.
4. Update Your System Often
Whether you use Windows or MacOS, you should regularly update your operating system. Old systems can have vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can take advantage of, but new versions come with bug fixes, security patches, and advanced capabilities that can keep hackers out. Be sure to update the systems on your mobile devices as well and regularly check for updates to your apps.
5. Backup Your Data Regularly
Hackers are after your data, so make sure it’s protected by backing it up to the cloud or an external hard drive. This adds an extra layer of protection and ensures you can still access your data even if it’s held for ransom by hackers.
6. Look Out for Suspicious Emails and Links
If it looks fishy, it could be a phishing! Phishing is when a hacker uses emails or texts that seem to be legitimate to trick you into revealing personal info like social security numbers and passwords. When you receive an email from an unknown or suspicious sender, think twice before opening it. Even if it looks real, be careful. Is the email address exactly correct? Sometimes hackers use emails that are just a letter off to trick you. Don’t ever download attachments or click on internal links unless you’re absolutely certain they’re legitimate. You could be opening ransomware or viruses. Even if the email comes from a familiar source, a hacker could be spoofing the address so use caution when clicking links or opening attachments. Pro tip: Hover your mouse over a link to see the URL it will take you to. If it doesn’t look right, report it to the email provider or your IT team.
7. Visit Secure Websites
Only visit websites that are secure, particularly if you need to enter personal information. How can you tell if a website is secure? The URL will start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. That “S” stands for secure and means the site has valid certificates. Depending on the browser you use, a lock symbol might also appear next to the URL.
8. Know Your IT Protocol
At work, you should always follow the security guidelines that your IT team has put in place. This includes using multi-factor authentication, not sharing passwords with co-workers, and going through IT to download anything to a device. If you see anything suspicious or if you think any data has been compromised, contact IT right away.
If you’re interested in preventing cyberattacks for an organization, then you might be the right candidate for an IT career. At Charter College, we offer an Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity that can prepare you for an entry-level this career in as few as 15 months. Our program is delivered online for your flexibility and convenience. For more information, call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.