Cybersecurity is often used as a blanket term to address online safety. Cybersecurity can refer to the software used to protect your devices, but it can also refer to the processes you put in place to protect yourself from online threats. Whether you’re implementing best practices, building awareness of security threats, or installing security software, taking a holistic approach to online security is crucial to remain secure and protected at all times.
Here are three tips for a holistic online security approach.
1. Safeguard Your Privacy Starting With Your Devices
Efficient online protection ultimately begins with you, the end-user, and the steps you take to secure your devices.
The first step to ensure your device is secure is never to leave it unattended. Whether you’re at the grocery store or at home, always keep an eye on your devices. All it takes is a few minutes for someone to steal them or for kids to click on a malicious link while your attention is diverted. Make sure you have a contingency plan in case your device is compromised. For example, if someone steals your device, wipe the information on the device remotely. Revert it to the factory setting, so the thief can’t access your personal information. Regularly back up your data in the event of a lost or compromised device to ensure you retain important documents.
In some instances, you can also recover deleted files at any time given the right tools. Regularly shred unwanted documents for the files that you want permanently deleted. Install security measures across all devices and your networks to protect your data and privacy. Always lock your device before stepping away and layer your device security with multi-factor authentication to ensure you are the only one who can access your sensitive information.
Passwords are the gateway to your device and play just as critical a role in securing your personal information. Follow password best practices to prevent cybercriminals or mischievous children from infiltrating files and data. Use long and complex passwords and never reuse them across accounts. You can also use a password manager to keep track of your passwords in one centralized and secure location.
2. Assess Your Awareness and Implement Best Practices
Strengthen your protection strategy by layering your physical device security with an enhanced awareness of relevant threats. Start by first taking a step back to assess your online persona. In other words, who are you? Are you a college student or a remote working parent who teleconferences frequently? Do you own an iOS device? Understand what your online devices and habits say about you as a person, as this will affect why and how cybercriminals target you.
For example, if you frequently teleconference for work or medical visits, you need to be aware of the teleconferencing risks of remote work or telehealth. Remote workers and telehealth patients face threats such as phishing emails or disrupted video conference calls. As a result, users must know the importance of using a video conferencing tool with end-to-end encryption and not sharing sensitive information through chat features.
Once you know the risks you face as an online user, consider the specific daily best practices for online safety. One good habit includes regularly updating your devices and software. Updating laptops, mobile devices, and routers ensure that existing bugs are fixed and security flaws are patched. Devices not equipped with the latest software are vulnerable to hackers.
Additionally, many cybercriminals will use social media to identify victims and target them through social engineering tactics. For example, they will send phishing emails to steal personal information and sell it on the dark web or hold it for ransom. Once you know what to look for, phishing emails are easy to spot. From there, you can send malicious messages straight to your trash folder and sidestep the threats that lie within. Check your privacy settings to control who can view your posts and ensure you receive notifications about suspicious activity on your account. Don’t respond to unknown messages and think twice before revealing sensitive information online. Practice better awareness by keeping up with new viruses and vulnerabilities. Use monitoring tools to check if your email or phone number is released in a recent data breach. Keep an eye on your financial accounts and consider freezing your credit to prevent hackers from taking out loans and opening new accounts in your name. Read reports such as McAfee Labs Threats Report and stay informed through credible news sources to stay one step ahead of the latest threats.
Also, stay aware of online fraud tactics since they are a significant risk for many Canadians. According to a CPA Canada Fraud Study conducted in January, almost three in four of those surveyed have received fraudulent requests including email and telemarketing requests. Evade online fraud by screening for unknown calls and steering clear of unsecured websites asking for sensitive information such as personal identification numbers and bank information.
3. Leverage the Right Technology and Resources
The final component of a holistic security strategy involves implementing a complete security suite, such as McAfee Total Protection, across all your devices. Leveraging software security tools is one of the best ways to protect your devices and personal information from online threats. This software takes a multi-layered approach to security to prevent virus infection, detect vulnerabilities and minimize the risk of viruses.
For example, tools like a VPN and antivirus software take a preventive approach to online security. A VPN encrypts your data, so even if someone were to get their hands on your information, they would not be able to make much sense of it. Antivirus software guards against malware and monitors online traffic and activities for malware.
Detection and correction capabilities are also crucial to a well-rounded security suite. Identity theft protection is a critical part of this solution to ensure the integrity of your credit, as well as your court and criminal records, remain intact. Report missing ID cards and conduct a background if you suspect someone is impersonating you. The right security solution will be able to monitor your accounts and notify you when it detects unusual activity. It will also be able to guide you through the remediation process to restore your privacy and identity.
Champion Your Digital Protection
Effective cybersecurity requires a multifaceted approach to create a holistic security strategy. This approach should integrate layered protection starting with your devices, expanding to your threat awareness, and ending with the software tools you leverage to enhance your digital security. With a strategic framework in place, you can rest assured knowing that you are well equipped to handle whatever malicious threat comes your way.
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