Cyber security is a continuous evolutionary process as new threats arise everyday. Apart from advanced security measures, it is advised to follow the following basic steps to minimize cyber security risk.
Hackers and phishers can acquire passwords from third party data breaches or through successful credential theft using phishing. The first half of 2019 has also seen many Password spraying attacks, as well as DNS Hijacking campaigns that can be minimized by enabling Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) or Multi-factor authentication (MFA). A 2FA demands an additional authentication along with a password, in order to access an account, thereby providing an additional layer of security.
To implement 2FA, users need to provide an accessible contact like a phone number or an email, so that a special code is sent to that contact each time a login attempt is made. Users can access their accounts by providing that additional code. Many major platforms offer enabling 2FA to verify before each login that the legitimate authorized account holder is making the login attempt. In case an unauthorized login attempt is made, not only is it prevented but also the user is notified by the generation of code that someone is trying to access their account.
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks are a great security risk. They are often exploited by attackers to enter target environments. Users should protect and encrypt their Wi-Fi networks to avoid having any intruders scan through their machines. A few encryption options are available that ensure that your Wi-Fi is publicly inaccessible. Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (or WPA3), for instance, can be set up on new routers by visiting the administrator’s page for your router. This is accessed by typing your router’s IP address in the URL field of your web browser. The most common ones are 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.2.1.
Once inside the router’s menu, there is a section under “Wireless” or “Security” that contains your system’s encryption settings along with some options, including WPA3. If WPA3 is not available then WPA2 is the best option to choose. If your encryption is previously set as WEP or WPA (older standard for older routers), it is advised to change it to WPA2.
After selecting an option, some instructions appear to create an appropriate password, creating which, your Wi-Fi network is secured! In case no option is available, go to router’s settings and update the firmware so your device is as safe as possible. However, do not leave your encryption status to “Open” which means there is no encryption enabled on your Wi-Fi network.
Do not leave passwords hanging around places where they can be accessed. It is always best practice to use separate passwords for each platform. Repetition of passwords is strongly discouraged by security experts. Moreover, the passwords can be stored on a password storing app, which keeps them safe for you and saves you from the trouble of remembering each password. Make sure the app you use is up to the standards of cyber security and recognized by security experts.
Always keep an anti-malware program with updated signatures installed on your computer. More importantly, make sure it is compatible with your device and has the essential features that you need. Mostly PCs are shipped with a pre-installed compatible antimalware called Windows Defender — which is Microsoft’s internally developed anti-malware application. Apart from thoroughly scanning your device for harmful software, Windows Defender is also the first to receive updates, latest signatures and zero-day defenses directly from Microsoft’s own cyber-security labs.
However, downloading the software is not enough. You also need to keep your computer and all software updated. Keeping the Windows updated to the latest version will also keep Windows Defender up to date, which means your device will be protected against malware currently circulating in the cyberspace. Also make sure to scan your device frequently and resolve all detected threats and issues.
Software updates are recommended not because they add the latest features to your system, but because these updates usually include security patches for vulnerabilities, bugs and zero-day exploits found in the software. These patches fix the critically dangerous bugs that may otherwise serve as entry points for hackers. Besides, many critical security flaws have no other solutions than implementing timely patching. Although new system updates are announced with notifications, still it is recommended to keep an eye out for these security updates and apply them as soon as possible.
Having applied the above-mentioned steps it is also recommended that users should enable an additional layer of protection i.e. Virtual Private Network (VPN). Using a VPN, your internet browsing is made anonymous and your internet connection is shielded from cybercriminals and hackers.