Every year, it’s a good idea to update your cybersecurity practices – even if that just means changing your password.
If you don’t already take cybersecurity seriously, you should. Preventable incidents happen when people ignore best practices, click on suspicious links, or use insecure passwords to name a few. Hackers love easy targets, so don’t leave your workplace or your home vulnerable to cyber attacks.
I talked to our other experts at the Cloverhound office about their “cybersecurity resolutions” for the New Year, from strengthening office networks to ensuring your personal security online. Here are the four most important resolutions for a secure 2020, with new insights I gained from our transition to a zero-trust security platform.
Make sure to always stay informed about best practices. It’s no longer realistic or fair for you to expect an IT Department to handle security for you – and most times they aren’t making house calls. Most modern cyber security threats originate from social media, user error, and web browser vulnerabilities: all threats that your IT department or antivirus software may not completely protect you from.
Keep your software up to date as well. Be it your browser or your operating system, allowing automatic updates ensures you’re running the latest and greatest piece of software. You can check for updates every weekend or every other weekend when you’re not using your computer and phone as much. A critical update may be the difference that saves your computer or device from malware.
2FA for All
After numerous recent consumer data breaches, you should be going to two-factor authentication (2FA) for everything – email, personal computer, online banking, the works. Two-factor authentication is something you have and something you know. Together, each component provides a system of checks and balances to prevent fraudsters from accessing your data. It’s the fastest and easiest way to protect yourself online.
In a similar vein, you can use password managers that allow you to generate unique, secure passwords across the Internet with one master password. Many Cloverhound employees use 1Password to stay secure on the internet. Smart password management is a best practice for home and business, and should be one of your resolutions for 2020.
IoT Can Be the Internet of Threats
There’s a good chance someone in your family got a smart home product, wearable, or another Internet of Things (IoT) device this holiday season. Unfortunately, the proliferation of IoT devices means your home faces more cybersecurity issues than ever. The default passwords on your home routers and IoT devices can lead to security breaches if they aren’t properly updated and managed. This proved disastrous in 2016 when the Mirai attack exploited the default password vulnerability.
This New Year’s resolution is an easy one: change your passwords on your routers, iPads, smart speakers, and any IoT devices you have connected to the internet! Make sure you’re no longer using any default passwords and you’ll immediately be less vulnerable to threats from the Internet of Things. If you have a lot of guests at home or at work, create a guest network so you don’t have to give out one of your primary passwords. This has the added advantage of keeping your primary network – and your IoT devices – safe from any guests who don’t take their cybersecurity seriously.
Say Goodbye to 2019, but Don’t Say Goodbye to Your Data
Everyone is vulnerable to losing data. Even Aunt Betty with her AOL dial-up connection.
You don’t want to lose all of your work, photos, videos, and memories from 2019. Make sure to start 2020 with a backup, and resolve to make a monthly home backup and weekly work backup on an external hard drive.
Make a Plan to Keep Your Resolutions
Finally, you don’t want your cybersecurity resolutions to fail faster than a fad diet. Schedule reminders in your calendar to keep your cybersecurity up to date, and you’ll be sure to have a worry-free 2020.
Austin Lutz is a nationally-known cybersecurity expert who works as the Service Delivery Manager for Cloverhound, a Charlotte-based Telecommunications and Software company. Austin lives in Gastonia, NC with his wife Jenny and four dogs.