Back to the Basics: The Importance of Cyber Hygiene

More often than not, the conversation about the importance of cyber security revolves around what an organization can do to protect its assets — but what can the individual do? Staff are fundamental to maintaining proper cyber hygiene and a healthy online footprint. Following these 5 tips will help individuals do their due diligence when it comes to eliminating cyber risk at the most basic level. 

1. Use a firewall. While a well-known form of security, many forego this fundamental step. A firewall is the first line of defense and can eliminate risk before the user is ever aware of it. Keep a firewall live and functional, even when performing mundane or daily tasks online.

2. Maintain appropriate passwords. It’s up to each user to follow his or her organization’s password best practices, which include using several character types, creating different passwords for different entry systems, and changing passwords on a regular basis.

3. Secure all personal data. Take special care when inputting personally identifiable information into public systems; if possible, avoid it entirely. Data encryption, which seemed a stretch for the average joe in years past, is now both viable and encouraged for everyone with help from plug-ins like GPG and FileVault or encryption programs like TrueCrypt.

4. Keep software updated. Don’t ignore your system when prompts you for updates, or consider turning automatic updates on. Patches and updates fix or eliminate bugs or flaws that might otherwise side-step good security. If a developer is no longer releasing updates for their product, consider upgrading or changing your software.

5. Back up data. In the event of a cyber attack, having back-up data — ideally, offsite — can prevent loss of critical information. Many people choose to back up data in the cloud because it’s affordable, automatic, and available anytime, anywhere.