Over the last year, millions of us have had to adapt to working from home (perhaps with laptops that were unceremoniously grabbed from our offices last March) which means it’s more important than ever that we reevaluate the best ways to stay safe and secure online. As of a 2021 report, the FBI has reported a 300% increase in the number of cybercrime cases, and no one wants to become a statistic. Here’s a look at some of the best ways you can revamp your online security in 2021.
Strengthen Your Login Credentials
A 2021 report on cybersecurity trends notes that an average of 30,000 new websites are hacked every day. You don’t have to give up your online shopping habits entirely, but it’s good to keep a check on the passwords you use for them. Google has a feature where it will inform you if any accounts and passwords associated with your Gmail have been exposed to hackers.
A good place to start on your computer clean-up journey toward staying safe online is with an overhaul of your passwords.
Make sure you:
- Don’t use the same password twice for different accounts
- Avoid using easily guessed passwords (family names, street addresses, birthdays, etc.)
- Try to change your passwords at least every 90 days
Absolutely it’s tempting to stick to what’s familiar, but experts say that common phrases and shorter words are the easiest to guess. If you’re intimidated by the thought of how you’ll manage all of these different passwords, then take a look at password management tools. Some of the more popular ones on the market include Bitwarden, Dashlane, and 1Password.
Try Multi-Factor Authentication Software
It may sound like a mouthful, but it’s pretty simple. Multi-factor authentication requires an individual to confirm their identity in two or more ways before gaining access to the desired account or applications. The most popular form of this verification comes as one-time passcodes (OTPs) received via text, email, or a phone call. In short, the software prevents internal theft or external access to private data from unapproved parties. A couple of easy-to-setup examples of authentication services are Duo Security and Google Authenticator.
Company Computer vs. “Family” Computer
These days, most companies requiring employees to work from home will offer an option for a take-home laptop or device that has pre-loaded security software on it, or they’ll provide a way for employees to connect to a secure SD-WAN. (SD-WAN solutions allow companies to protect information from hackers attempting to steal sensitive information.) If you’ve been using a personal computer and need a secure laptop, now’s the time to ask your company if they’ll provide one so you can stay safe online.
And if you have kids or teens that have easy access to a communal desktop in the home, it’s time to give it a good clean-up, too. Malware removal and protection software may help spot any potential security threats. And of course it never hurts to have a family sit-down to review internet best practices and review safety precautions with your little ones.
Secure Your Network When Working Away From Home
It may be tempting to seek respite from the monotony of work-from-home life at your local cafe, but be wary of your decision to hop on “free” wifi networks. If you do choose to log onto public Wi-Fi, the rules are as follows:
Check if the site you’re visiting is labeled with “HTTP” or “HTTPS”: The “S” in HTTPS stands for “secure”. Google Chrome, specifically, will warn you if you’re visiting a “not secure” website, or “HTTP.”
Block AirDrop and file sharing: You may experience an unexpected pop-up from someone you don’t know when you’ve connected to public Wi-Fi — never open any files from an individual you aren’t expecting to receive something from.
Install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) onto your devices: VPNs serve as a secure, private technology that makes it much harder for other individuals on the network to see what you’re doing and/or take any personal information.
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