As a gun owner, you’re probably very focused on security and keeping yourself safe from threats, at least from a physical point of view but keeping yourself physically safe from threats with a gun is only part of personal security as a whole. Another aspect of your personal security that you need to be concerned about as well is cyber security
No, cyber threats may not represent an immediate physical threat to your life. But what they do represent is a threat to your personal data and information.
Too many people today have the belief that their information on their computers and on websites will never become compromised because they have adopted the ‘it will never happen to me’ mindset.
This is exactly the opposite kind of mindset that you want to have. For the same reason that you conceal carry a firearm or have a gun for defense in your home because you know you can’t tell yourself that you’ll never be threatened by someone with harmful intent, so you will want to adopt the same attitude towards cyber security as well.
With that said, here are the top tips that you can improve your cyber security today:
Cyber Security Tip 1: Use Strong Passwords (5 Golden Rules)
A little obvious? Maybe. But the truth is that your passwords always serve as your first line of defense against hackers.
Furthermore, it’s amazing how many people use weak passwords, such as their birthdays, their names or variations of their name, or something else that’s painfully easy to figure out.
Don’t make this same mistake. If a hacker is unable to decode your password, then they will be denied access to your account. It’s that simple and it’s why having a strong password is so darn important.
Here is a list of the golden rules to follow when setting a password:
- Passwords must have a minimum of eight characters (more is better)
- Passwords must contain both lowercase and uppercase letters
- Passwords must contain both numbers and symbols
- Passwords cannot be based on any words
- Passwords must be changed regularly
If you can follow the above golden rules, you will have beefed up your cyber security significantly and made it much more difficult for hackers to access your accounts and personal or financial information.
But still, you can’t just set a good password and call yourself secure. There are more steps that you will need to take as well, such as…
Cyber Security Tip 2: Preventing Malware (3 Easy Steps)
Malware, as you very well may know, is a term used to refer to malicious software that will have a negative impact on your systems to hack into your data.
Malware can infect its way into your computer in a number of different ways. One way is for a hacker to send you a legitimate looking email and convince you to open a malicious attachment.
Another way is for malware to be installed simultaneously with other pieces of software, such as software that you download through third party websites. Yet one more way is when you visit certain websites run by hackers that look for vulnerabilities in your network especially if you don’t hide your IP while online. If a vulnerability is detected, the hacker then may attempt to exploit it to infect your computer with malware.
Fortunately, there are a number of easy steps that you can take to prevent malware from developing your computer, including:
- UPDATE YOUR ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE: You do have anti-virus software installed on your computer, right? Many people don’t. But not only do you need anti-virus software, you also need to maintain it, and that means updating it regularly. Sure, it may seem annoying or remedial, but it’s really something that’s worth doing for the sake of maintaining your privacy. Every operating system, application, and connection will need to be kept up-to-date in order to limit your exposure to vulnerabilities.
- REMOVE ANY SOFTWARE YOU DON’T USE: If there is any software of any kind that you’re not using on your computer, get rid of them. It’s not worth the risk of keeping them because hackers can easily exploit unused software. Legacy programs, in particular, are at the greatest risk of being exploited (AKA, an old or outdated application that you probably no longer use).
- DO NOT OPEN AN EMAIL IN HTML: Another prime target for hackers to distribute malware is through email. They achieve this by running malicious scripts when an email is opened in HTML view (i.e. photos). For this reason, you should not display HTML content in an email unless if you definitely trust the source.
In general, you always want to be very careful about what you click, especially links or attachments that are sent to your email. If the attachments or links sent to you were not expected or were sent from someone who you don’t know, DO NOT click them for any reason.
Cyber Security Tip 3: Back Up, Back Up, Back Up (3 Easy Ways)
Last but not least, you need to back up all of your data and your computer on a regular basis. This way, if your data or personal information ever does become compromised, you will have a back up that you can turn to in order to restart.
There are three primary ways that you can back up your data:
- IN THE CLOUD: The best cloud storage services offer you encryption to keep your data safe in addition to low fees and sufficient storage space. Keeping your data in the cloud also allows you to access it from both a computer at home and from a mobile device. Right now, the top four best cloud storage services are Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, and OneDrive. Overall, the biggest advantages to using a cloud-based service is that it encrypts your data and stores it in a remote location, while also allowing you to access it from anywhere. The best disadvantages to a cloud storage service are that you need to have internet access in order to access the files, and you also have limits on free storage (usually 5GB or less).
- EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE: Perhaps the simplest way to backup your data is simply to put it on an external hard drive. External hard drive allows you to schedule regular backups when they are connected to your computer, and you can store them in any physical location you desire so there’s no remote possibility of a hacker getting into it. The biggest negatives to external hard drives are that you have to protect the hard drive from being physically damaged, they run the risk of failure.
- NAS DEVICE: A NAS, or network attached storage device is a server that is used for saving data. You can configure it wired or wirelessly, and it will show up as another drive on your computer. The biggest advantages to a NAS device is the fact that you can set up automatic backups on multiple computers at once. The biggest disadvantages to it is that it is costly, and there’s always the possibility that it could fail.
Ideally, you’ll use more than one back up option. For example, you may elect to backup your data to both an external hard drive and to cloud storage.
Cyber Security Tipa: Conclusion
All in all, these are the simplest and yet most effective tips that you can apply right now to improve your cybersecurity and protect your data and maintain your privacy from hackers.
Remember, it’s vitally important that you never fall for the ‘it will never happen to me’ mindset. Just as you can never fall for that mindset with physical threats and need to conceal carry as a result, you can’t fall for it with online or cyber threats either.
This content provided by Sam Bocetta, cybersecurity analyst, currently reporting on cryptography and cybercrime on his blog 43 DEGREES NORTH