Personal Cybersecurity 101 – Focus on the Basics

The demand for personal cybersecurity due to the increase of cyber incidents leaves you feeling exposed. What can you do to protect yourself and your personal data against the dark world of cybercriminals?

The good news is… quite a lot, actually!

By focusing on the basics, you can dramatically reduce the risk and what cybersecurity pros refer to as their “attack surface”. The truth is that most cyberattacks are not actually that sophisticated. Instead, they are aimed at exploiting common user mistakes and bad security hygiene.

For many cybercriminals it is easier to “pick the low-hanging fruit” that proliferates all over the web than spend money and time trying to get past robust cybersecurity defences. By changing bad habits and raising your defence levels, you can push your risk down substantially.

Building and practising good cybersecurity habits may take a bit of effort at first and a change in behaviour but the benefits will be considerable and persistent. It is always a good idea to start with the basics and work your way forward from there.

We’ve created a checklist of the most basic, yet surprisingly effective security controls which you absolutely should implement. Some of these are mildly technical, but others are related to your behaviour. In short: even the most technophobic noob can smash this list.

#1 Use a reliable antivirus solution (not the free version)

This is so important. Don’t forget to roll this out on all your mobile devices as well. Most AV packages come with licenses for five devices – use them. Feel free to run a full scan once a week when you head off to bed.

#2 Always allow software and patch updates

Those pesky Windows and mobile updates that seem to occur at the most inconvenient times are essential, as they are usually security patches to close off newly discovered vulnerabilities.  

Don’t be too relaxed regarding app updates either – there are certain critical updates you must install as soon as they are released, the priority here is your banking apps.

#3 Password Management

Be sure to use unique passwords across your different platforms. Complex passwords with alphanumerical combinations are a must because they are harder to crack. Avoid password phrases like 12345 or ‘password’ or obvious guesses such as your spouse’s name. Ensure that your banking passwords are never repeated elsewhere. Using a password manager is highly recommended.

#4 MFA – Multi-Factor Authentication

Most apps nowadays offer multi-factor authentication, where either a one-time pin is sent to your mobile, or a unique code is required from an authenticator app. Always utilise MFA where it is offered.

#5 Don’t allow others to share your devices (especially your kids)

There are certain things in life one shouldn’t share. PCs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones fall squarely into that category. It all comes down to what others download or click on while online. Children, in particular, look for free games – so no! The same principle applies to flash drives – don’t share yours and never insert flash drives belonging to others into your computers.

In fact, flash drives are something you need to phase out of your life sooner rather than later; they are often sources of infection but also points of personal compromise when they are lost or stolen.

Digimune offers great cybersecurity bundles for home use.

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