People use technology for nearly everything these days. Many people use it for work; it is becoming more common for students and teachers to use technology for teaching (and especially when schools are implementing remote learning); and almost everyone uses technology extensively in their free time, whether it is simply their smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop.
The trouble with technology being so pervasive is that it means cyber attacks will also be more prevalent, owing to the fact that hackers and cybercriminals have more targets than they have ever had before. For this reason, it is important for all users to engage in the proper security practices. We spoke with TechQuarters, an IT support company with much experience helping their customers boost their cyber security. Usually, in a professional context, this involves mostly enterprise-level security solutions, however, TechQuarters state that there are plenty of measures that the average user can take to keep their technology secured.
This is the first and easiest way for an individual to beef up their cyber security. Unfortunately, most users are prone to using simplistic passwords, or none at all. It is most unadvisable to use passwords like ‘12345678’ or ‘password`. For a password to meet the bare minimum requirements for complexity, it should contain a combination of lowercase & uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
A concept known as password entropy describes how unpredictable a password is – the higher entropy number your password has, the harder it will be to crack during a brute force attack (an attack where millions of password guesses a second). There are databases, such as Diceware, or the EFF Word List, which offers high entropy words and phrases that you can combine to create very strong passwords.
The trouble with incredibly strong passwords is that they are complex and can be difficult to remember – especially seeing as you should be using a different password for every single account; if you share passwords, you make it easier for hackers to gain access to multiple accounts. A Password Manager is a secure program that allows you to store passwords to all of your accounts, and even auto-fill them on webpages. Password Managers themselves are usually encrypted with a password, so really you only need to remember one strong password.
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While setting strong passwords for each account is important, there are ways to make your accounts even more secure. Multi-Factor Authentication is a means for adding a layer of verification during login; you enter your password, and you are then prompted to enter a code that gets sent to your email, or your phone, or a code that gets auto-generated in a verification app like Authy or Google Authentication.
MFA adds a layer of identity-based security to your logins because authentication relies on access to your email or phone number, or a verified authentication app.
Secure Network Connections
Another simple step to take. Most people have their own Wi-Fi at home, and at their work; but often we tend to connect to public networks, like in shops, cafes, and restaurants. These networks are unsecured because they are public, and many people connect to them at once, which is how cybercriminals can steal data from people. Users can avoid certain cyberattacks by avoiding connecting to public networks wherever they can.
Virtual Private Networks
If a user cannot avoid connecting to public networks, there is still a way to protect their device. Using Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, on your phone adds a layer of protection whilst you browse the web. A VPN is a paid-for service which involves connecting your phone to a secured server somewhere in the world, through which you access the internet. This makes it much safer to use public Wi-Fi and mobile data.
Another network security solution that is highly advisable; the IT managed services London businesses receive from TechQuarters includes optional firewall services. A firewall manages the traffic going through a network in both directions. It is capable of filtering out web addresses entirely if they have been listed as dangerous. These days, firewalls are increasingly smart and are often connected to other services that allow them to automatically update their list of dangerous web addresses, to make sure the security they provide a network is always up to date.