In an age where cybercrime is on the rise, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect yourself and your business from online threats. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve your cybersecurity posture and make yourself less vulnerable to attacks. In this article, we will discuss the very basics of cybersecurity, some common cybersecurity threats, and finally 20 ways to improve cybersecurity protection for you and your company.
The Basics of Cybersecurity
Before we dive into the specific ways that you can improve your cybersecurity, let us briefly review some of the basics.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the technical practice of protecting the information of individuals and businesses from any unauthorized access or breach by cybercriminals. This includes protecting devices like computers, servers, and mobile devices from malicious software, viruses, and hackers. It also involves protecting sensitive data such as customer information, financial records, and proprietary company information.
Why is Cybersecurity Important for individuals and businesses?
While no individual or business is 100% protected from a cyberattack or data theft, cybersecurity still plays a critical role in preventing attacks and securing against data breaches.
For individuals, implementing ways to improve cybersecurity can help them protect their sensitive data from being stolen by hackers. The sensitive data may include things like your credit card information, residential address, phone number, social security number, etc. Improving cybersecurity can also help to protect your online reputation by preventing fraudsters from impersonating you or spreading false information about you online.
For businesses, cybersecurity is important for protecting sensitive company information and preventing data breaches. A single data breach can bring your entire business to its knees and can further land you in a lawsuit for not following the industry’s security compliances. It can also result in the loss of your customers as well as their trust and reputational damage. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to have strong cybersecurity measures in place.
What are some common Cybersecurity threats?
The world’s cybersecurity landscape is ever-changing. We see thousands of data breaches and network or device compromises of individuals and businesses due to a variety of attack types/vectors used by cybercriminals. Every single day, a new type of malware, zero-day exploit, or phishing technique is discovered by hackers. But here, we will discuss the most common cybersecurity threats most individuals and businesses face in their day-to-day lives – phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, and denial of service attacks.
- Phishing attacks involve sending fraudulent emails or text messages that trick the recipient into clicking on a malicious link or attachment.
- Malware is a type of software or malicious code written by a hacker to target the victims by infecting their systems, computers, or websites.
- Ransomware also belongs to the malware family where, If any system is targeted with a ransomware attack, the malicious code in the compromised system encrypts all its files and demands a ransom/money to decrypt them.
- Denial of service attacks involves flooding a website or server with traffic to make it unavailable to legitimate users.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at some specific ways that you can improve your cybersecurity.
Ways to Improve Cybersecurity (For Individuals)
#1 Use a password manager
A password manager is a software application that can be installed as a browser extension, desktop client or mobile app that helps you with automatically creating complex passwords. You can also store and manage these strong passwords in the password manager for your future logins. Using a password manager is a great way to improve your cybersecurity because it means that you don’t have to remember multiple complex passwords and your passwords are stored in a safe place.
#2 Always use strong passwords
This is for the individuals and businesses that are unfamiliar with a password manager or don’t use one. Using strong passwords for logins is one of the best ways to improve your cybersecurity. But what exactly makes a password strong?
A long passphrase that you can remember easily with a single hint. Or a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers that you can recall even if you’re in a deep sleep.
#3 Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (also known as two-step verification or 2FA) is a cybersecurity practice you can use to strengthen the security of your login and stop unauthorized access to your data. The 2FA adds an extra layer of access permission to those who try to access using your username and password. You can enable the two-factor authentication and protect your login with both password and a one-time password (OTP) sent to your phone.
#4 Don’t just click on random stuff
Hackers are smart and so are you. Don’t click on any malicious-looking link on the internet or attachment in your email. The hackers can easily fool you if you don’t always stay cautious when opening random links in your browser. They can gain complete access to your phone or a computer. That’s why it’s important to be careful about what emails and attachments you open, even if they seem to be from a legitimate source.
#5 Keep your software up to date
We all know this but some people ignore it and become victims very easily. One of the best ways to improve your cybersecurity is to keep all your software up to date with the latest versions. Be it your mobile app, operating system, web browser, games, plugins, or extensions – always keep them updated.
#6 Use a VPN
Using a virtual private network (VPN) for surfing the internet or doing your work online always keeps you protected from hackers and cybercriminals. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and hides your location so that when you open a compromised website using a VPN and a browser, that website will be unable to tell your location, so the hackers. Using a VPN app is a great way to improve your cybersecurity.
#7 Avoid public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, which means that they can be a target for hackers. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, be sure to connect to a VPN first.
#8 Be aware of social engineering
Social engineering is a type of attack carried out by mostly cybercriminals or ethical hackers to trick you into giving your private information to them. A social engineering attack can be carried out using a phishing email or pretexting. So, it is always good to keep your eyes open for social engineering attacks and make it a practice to improve your cybersecurity hygiene on the internet.
#9 Take Data Backups
Having a backup of your data is considered the best cybersecurity practice when things go wrong. It can help you with two important things. Firstly, you can easily recover files and folders if they are lost or unavailable due to a corrupted hard drive. Secondly, it can help you with a backup in case your system is lost or stolen. A quick tip – take backups on the cloud.
#10 Use security tools
Using security tools can improve your cybersecurity hygiene. It can offer you a great deal of protection against a wide range of malware or viruses that can easily damage your systems. You can use security tools like anti-virus, malware protection, secured gateway/VPN solution, etc.
These are just a few of the many ways that you can follow to improve your cybersecurity and keep your data safe from hackers.
Ways to Improve Cybersecurity (For Businesses)
In addition to the measures that individuals can take to improve their cybersecurity, there are also several steps that businesses can take.
Here are some of the most effective ones:
#1 Educate your employees with cybersecurity awareness training
One of the best ways to improve cybersecurity in the workplace is to educate your employees about it. To do that, you can ask your employees to take a cybersecurity certification program or you can also conduct a cybersecurity awareness program within your company and let your employees know about potential security risks and the best cybersecurity practices to follow. A cybersecurity awareness program should convey information to employees regarding how to use removable media, how to surf the internet, how to identify spam or phishing emails, mobile device security, remote working, social engineering, etc.
#2 Implement security policies and procedures for your company
Another way to boost cybersecurity in the workplace is to implement policies and procedures that everyone must follow. This might include things like using strong passwords, encrypting sensitive data, and avoiding clicking on links from unknown sources.
#3 Use secure servers and networking equipment
It’s also important for businesses to use secure servers and networking equipment. Businesses can secure their applications and networks by implementing different cybersecurity solutions such as an Intrusion Prevention/Detection System (IPS/IDS), a network firewall, a web application firewall, a DDoS mitigation solution, and a Zero trust solution, etc. This will help to prevent data breaches and protect sensitive information present in the company’s networks and applications.
#4 Conduct regular security audits
Regular security audits or security testing are a great way to identify vulnerabilities in your system and make sure that your defenses are up to date. See this guide on web application security testing checklist.
#5 Invest in Cyber Insurance
As an individual or a business, it is always a good practice to secure or ensure your assets are insured from any unnatural event. Having cyber insurance can help to financially protect your business against any customer data theft, service unavailability, non-compliance fines, or other cyberattack incidents.
#6 Partner with a Managed Security Service Provider
Managed security service providers can help to monitor your system for threats and provide expert guidance on how to improve your cybersecurity.
#7 Keep your software up to date
Just like individuals, businesses need to keep their software up to date to protect against malware and other security risks.
#8 Encrypt your data
Encrypting your data is a great way to protect it from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.
#9 Dispose of data securely
When you no longer need certain data, it’s important to dispose of it securely. This might involve shredding paper documents or using software to erase electronic files.
#10 Have a plan for responding to incidents
Having an incident response plan for unexpected events such as a data breach or other security incident will help you with how you react to such incidents and how you take care of the customers who are affected by the breach. In addition, the incident response plan should include steps for containing the incident, notification to affected users about the incident, and restoring your compromised system.
There are many different ways that you can improve your cybersecurity. By following the tips/ways mentioned in this article, you can help to protect yourself, your family, and your business from cyberattacks.
Thanks for reading!