National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Becoming a Pro at being Proactive
“Protect It” During Cybersecurity Awareness Month
The third step to becoming a Pro at being Proactive during Cybersecurity Month is to “Protect It.” This means putting preventative safety measures in place to help ensure that your online information is secure. Many tend to neglect their devices when it comes to providing them with effective security because they underestimate the abilities of hackers, and overlook how valuable our online information is. If we protected our online identity the way we protected tangible, material items in our life like our cars and houses, it would make it more difficult for hackers to obtain our information. Think of your online information as your house: would you ever leave a door open in your home making it easier for intruders to enter? So why leave doors open when it comes to your online security? Cyberattacks are occurring more frequently than they used to. In fact, 68% of organizations say they have been hit by a cyber-attack, twice on average. In order to protect ourselves, we need to take the necessary precautions to assure our online information is protected. Here are a few tips that we can use to ensure that we “protect it” throughout this month and all times of the year.
Don’t postpone software updates; be ahead of the game and update sooner than later. Your software should always be updated to the latest version to prevent cyber criminals from exploiting any outdated versions. For example – Windows 7 end of life support is on January 14, 2020. This means that after January 14, Microsoft will no longer be patching security holes within the Windows 7 operating system. This will leave those who still utilize the system unprotected and vulnerable to hackers, which is why QualityIP encourages those to update to Windows 10 before the end of life support date.
Let’s go back to our house analogy. A firewall is like the front door to your house. This is the primary entry and exit point for your network. It’s important to make sure you have a commercial grade security appliance serving as your primary firewall. Most standard telecom modems or off-the-shelf models from a local retail store are not best suited to protect your network. These may suffice for residential application, but in a business environment, this is like trusting a screen door to prevent intruders from entering your house. Upgrade to a commercial grade device, and keep your firmware and licensing up to date to ensure security and reliability.
At the workstation level, many small businesses or local governments use a free version of Malwarebytes, or the standard issue version of Windows Defender. Again, this may be appropriate for residential use, but to truly protect your network from intrusion through a workstation, you need to have a paid and well-managed anti-virus solution installed and configured on each computer. These require manual intervention, so make sure you have an IT professional or service provider managing your anti-virus. In our house metaphor, anti-virus is like making sure your windows are closed and locked and you have glass-break detection in place.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be a useful tool in securing your online information and privacy. Browsing on an unsecured network could lead to your private information being compromised, but a VPN provides you with a secure connection to a network from over the internet. VPN’s create online secrecy by encrypting the data you send and receive, and providing anonymity to your web browsing history and your IP address. This means that you can increase the privacy of activities you do online, such as making payments or sending emails.
The purpose of National Cybersecurity Awareness month is to raise awareness of the dangers that can arise from lack of cybersecurity, and to promote the practice of safe and secure procedures online. There are on average three data breaches a day, and have been at least 4 million so far just this year. We can help prevent a data breach from occurring by utilizing preventative online safety tools like VPNs, Firewalls, Anti-Viruses, and software updates. By following these tips, you can make a conscious effort to “protect it” not only for cybersecurity awareness month, but also throughout all times of the year.
Learn more about how to become a pro at being proactive with cybersecurity by giving us a call at 833-KNOWS-IT (833-566-9748) or shooting us a message!
We’re happy to answer all of your IT security questions.
Written by Jeanine Hasan, Marketing Coordinator at QualityIP.