Last week, a major ransomware attack named “WannaCry” reeked havoc on computer networks all over the world. If you didn’t hear about it, you can read about the details of it here or here. Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly advanced and difficult to prevent. While more expansive cybersecurity efforts will continue to focus on how to prevent the attacks on a large scale, the average individual needs to stay informed on what he or she can do to protect sensitive data. Below is a seven-step list to help you to develop a more secure online space:
- Ensure your computer and mobile device operating systems are up to date. Outdated operating systems lack security updates that greatly increase your vulnerability to attacks.
- Be sure to create strong and unique passwords for all of your online accounts. Weak passwords are a point of vulnerability that hackers know how to exploit. While it is difficult to keep up with different unique passwords, it is worth the effort. Password managers like LastPass can help you organize them.
- Another easy step is engaging two-step authentication. This helps prevent unknown parties from signing into your accounts and you will be notified if there is an attempt by a stranger to gain access.
- Encryption is key! Encryption means that your data is unrecognizable to those without access. Messaging apps like “Signal” or “WhatsApp” automatically encrypt your messages making it safer to exchange information via text messaging.
- Be sure the data on your computer is secured. Both Mac and Windows offer ways to encrypt the data on your computer. Check your preferences to check if they are engaged. Mac uses a tool called FireVault and Microsoft uses a tool called BitLocker.
- Browsing the web can also make you vulnerable to attacks, especially browsing over a public wi-fi network. Look into using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network when you surf the web. VPN’s do cost money, so it’s good to research your options to find what’s best for you.
- Use a browser plug-in called “HTTPS Everywhere.” It was a developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to make sure the websites you’re visiting are secure.
One of the difficulties associated with cybersecurity is that technology is always evolving, as well as the ways thieves act out cyber attacks. As the WannaCrypt attack last weekend reminds us, the threat of cyber attacks is only increasing and it takes a sustained effort to keep up to date on new tools for your protection, not to mention some degree of technological know-how. If you have any questions about your own cybersecurity, or what steps to take once you realize your information has been compromise, please contact us.