Protecting your home computer network or the slew of household internet devices from cyberattacks can be easy with the understanding of three easy cyber habits.
Cybersecurity experts provide internet users with a simple set of three ways to improve personal cyber hygiene. The three cyber habits are: always being suspicious about clicking on an email link; always accept software update requests immediately upon invitation; and finally, always back up all information on your internet devices at least monthly. These three cyber habits are easy to perform and will protect you and your information from online attacks and exploitation.
Being suspicious of email links doesn’t mean never clicking an email link - but the number one method that computer hackers employ to breach personal, corporate and governmental computer systems is the “email compromise” attack. In this common attack, when the user clicks on an unknown email link, the hacker gains control of the user’s device and quietly compromises it with a computer virus. The virus may immediately, or overtime, perform any number of unauthorized activities from tracking your location, to intercepting all your communications to watching and listening to you through a device’s camera and microphone.
How to avoid email compromise? Try to positively identify who sent you the link and where on the internet the link is sending your device. You can identify the sender by closely checking the sender’s email address for exact spelling. For instance, firstname.lastname@example.org is not the same as email@example.com - the second email address should make you suspicious. Identifying the internet address of the link can be accomplished by hovering your courser over the link and allowing your internet browser to present the link’s internet address (usually in the bottom left of the browser window). An unfamiliar internet address should also raise your suspicion of the email sender’s motives.
The second cyber habit is to always, and immediately, accept all software update requests when you are invited by your device to do so. As it turns out, hackers salivate when they receive these update requests because they know the update is usually “patching” a security flaw that they can now exploit! Users that don’t immediately accept the software update become easy targets for hackers.
The final cyber habit of improving personal cyber hygiene is to periodically backup all data on each of your devices. This is usually a device setting on your mobile or computer device and may cost $50-100 per year to have the information stored by a cloud provider. This cyber habit is very easy to execute and protects you from a range of data loss scenarios including malicious ransomware attacks and even losing your device!
Make these three cyber habits instinctual parts of your internet activities and you will drastically improve your cyber hygiene and reduce the chance of becoming the exploit of an internet hacker.