Did you know that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month? As a collaborative effort between government and industry, National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) was created fifteen years ago, and is now observed each year to ensure everyone has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online.
As an MSP, online security is top-of-mind for us and our clients. Most places we go, there’s a network connection for us to link up to—a gateway into the World Wide Web, its endless information, and being able to connect with each other. But how can we protect our clients (and ourselves) when browsing online?
Here are four tips we would like to share with you to ensure better security while online.
1. Only Connect to Familiar Networks
I know how tempting free Wi-Fi can be, but it can also be dangerous. Public connections at the local coffee shop are usually unsecure, and therefore leave your machine open to hackers and outsiders.
While these networks provide a convenience, there are risks to be aware of because you can never be too sure who is providing the connection. To avoid any false play, only use trusted network connections or be sure to secure the connection using appropriate VPN settings.
2. Browse and Shop with Caution
Malicious websites are out there, and it only takes on wrong turn to unknowingly download a virus and compromise your computer.
A good—and safe—place to start is by visiting websites that are familiar to you. Stick with the reputable sites that are tried and true, like Amazon or Netflix. Always look for that ‘padlock’ symbol or the abbreviation ‘https’ in the address bar at the top of your browser. This will ensure that you are on a secure, encrypted part of the webpage.
This is especially important when purchasing items that are in your online cart or filling out any other financial or personal information. And, it’s never a bad idea to keep an eye on your bank statements for suspicious activity.
3. Trust Your Instinct: Don’t Click on Anything Suspicious
Most people have a decent scam radar—although, cyber threats are getting more sophisticated and real-looking by the day. But, when browsing online, keep in mind one thing: if an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. Try to avoid clicking on any links or pages that look suspicious or spammy. If a window pops up while browsing a website, immediately close it.
The same goes for email. If you get an email from an unknown source, do not click any of the links or attachments within it. Familiarity is always your friend and playing it safe or using your best judgment is always a good defence.
4. Use Secure Passwords
Always be thinking about the passwords you’re using. Passwords for logging into any website should contain a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters, and keep in mind whether or not you’re sharing these passwords or using them for multiple apps and websites. It can definitely be a pain to remember all of these passwords but ask yourself which is more of a pain: remembering these or recovering stolen personal information.
There are a few best practices around strong passwords, including the length being at least eight characters, and staying away from obvious information such as names and birthdays. Additionally, it’s wise to think about changing and/or updating your passwords every six months or so.
Stay tuned next week and the rest of October for more cyber security best practices to take us through National Cyber Security Awareness Month!