As National Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes to a close, I hope that you’ve been giving some thought to how you can better secure your tech systems. The theme of this year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” Using this framework, we can learn how to protect our digital lives and avoid security problems.
In our previous blog installments this month, we’ve discussed what it means to Own IT and to Secure IT. Here’s a quick review:
Own IT–Take control of your digital life and take responsibility for your own security. Own IT is a reminder that the means of securing our online presence is in your own hands. Stay aware of your security settings and the security of every online connection you make.
Secure IT–Secure IT encourages the public to be aware of threats to their online privacy. By using strong passwords and following a zero-trust online policy, you can reduce your risk of being victimized. Spend some time today checking your passwords and privacy settings. The first line of defense against online predators is your diligence.
The final part of this year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is “Protect IT.” In this blog, we will discuss what this means and how to apply it to your own life.
Each of us has a digital profile that is interwoven with all of the various aspects of our lives. We connect online, we purchase online, we play online. Each time we do anything on the internet, it creates a digital trail. “Every click, share, send, and post you make creates a digital trail that can be exploited by cybercriminals,” warns the government. Their advice on how to protect yourself is to “understand, secure, and maintain your digital profile. Be familiar with and routinely check privacy settings to help protect your privacy and limit cybercrimes.”
What concrete steps can you take toward protecting yourself online? These three key ideas should give you a good place to start:
- Researching and Assessing Your Digital Profile
- “Cyber Hygiene”
- Physical Security and Cybersecurity
Let’s talk about what each of these means and how they can improve your online safety.
Researching and Assessing Your Digital Profile
Have you ever Googled yourself? Of course you have. Haven’t we all? It might seem like a strange and slightly self-obsessed thing to do, but it could actually be good for you. By researching and assessing your digital profile, you can learn what personal information about you is available online. Once you know what your digital profile is, you can begin to secure any private information you discover.
You may be surprised at how much of your personal life makes its way online. Sometimes, we are sharing information with the public without even realizing it. By Googling yourself and researching your digital profile on social media websites, you can begin to see how much of your personal information is available to anyone who cares to search for it.
After you’ve assessed your online presence, you can take steps to protect yourself. For more tips on exactly how to do that, read our previous blog, “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Secure IT.”
“Cyber hygiene” is a relatively new concept, growing out of the public need to maintain a safe and secure cyber presence. Just as personal hygiene is important to our physical health and wellbeing, cyber hygiene is the key to our online health and wellbeing. From entire systems to individual profiles, cyber hygiene offers us an approach to online engagement that can limit our vulnerability to cyber predators and privacy invasions.
Here are some cyber hygiene tips that you can implement right away:
- Never click and tell— Any time you post personal information on social media, you drop a breadcrumb in a trail that criminals can use to track your life. It’s not just information like social security numbers and bank info that you should worry about securing; you should make sure that any details like your location, your birthday, and your full name are kept out of the hands of predators.
- Use Security Software— Install an antivirus program on your computer and enable the most secure settings. Use any firewalls or other protective features that are available to you. These programs work behind the scenes to keep you safe even when you don’t realize that you’re at risk.
- Secure Your Logins— Using strong passwords and multifactor authentication is a necessity in today’s cyberscape. Learn more about how to get started in our “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Secure IT” blog.
- Back Up and Clean Your Hard Drive—Performing regular maintenance on your hard drive will help you limit your vulnerability in the event of a privacy or data breach.
- Stay Updated— Software updates often contain important security elements. As cyber predators evolve and adapt their offenses, programmers and developers work to stay ahead of the danger. Don’t miss an update that could help protect you against a new threat.
By practicing cyber hygiene, you can limit your exposure to security breaches. Taking care to keep a clean online presence can help you avoid future trouble.
Physical Security and Cybersecurity
In a pre-digital age, personal security had a very different meaning than it does today. Physical security was the only concern before widespread identity theft and online crime became a problem. You would have locks on your doors and windows, maybe a car alarm, and other precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Today, we need to apply the same thinking to our online security.
Just as you wouldn’t leave the door to your house open, you shouldn’t leave a door open to your online life. That means using security precautions wherever they are available and always staying alert to any vulnerabilities you may have. As we discussed in the first blog of this series, “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Own IT,” you have the power and responsibility to secure your own online presence. Revisit our tips for ensuring your online safety.
Thinking of your cybersecurity in the same terms as your physical security may be a new concept, but it’s crucial in an age when we live large parts of our lives in the digital world. By reconceptualizing online safety as an essential part of your overall personal safety, you can integrate digital security into your daily life.
Now that we’ve covered all three aspects of this year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, what are your next steps? Use the advice in this blog series to get started with a new approach to your online security.
Own IT— Take control of your own cybersecurity.
Secure IT— Use the tools available to you.
Protect IT— Incorporate cybersecurity into all aspects of your life.
For information on our cybersecurity training and certification courses, visit our website at 30Bird.com. Keep coming back for more informative blogs about a variety of digital news topics, including how to stay safe online.