How to Stay Safe Against Cyber Threats in 2019

How to Stay Safe Against Cyber Threats in 2019

With news of data breaches becoming the norm, protecting your personal and company data are a must. Last year saw an onslaught of security threats and new threats emerge continually.

Symantec Corporation reported that the single largest potential data leak, affecting marketing and data firm Exactis, involved 340 million personal information records; let alone the Macy’s breach and the Equifax breach. Tactics change at an alarming speed and it is becoming a time of not if, but when, you are hit with a threat. Precaution is a necessity. While paranoia is not necessary, remaining alert and vigilant is the best defense.

Passwords are the first line of defense, but many do not create a strong enough password, leaving their information wide-open for hackers. According to SplashData, Inc., after evaluating more than 5 million passwords leaked on the internet, the company found that computer users continue to use the same predictable, easily guessable passwords. For the fifth consecutive year, the top two passwords remain on the list in the No. 1 and No. 2 spot for 2018, “123456” and “password,” respectively. New to the list were “111111” and “donald.”

Experts suggest a good password should be at least 12 characters or more with mixed types of characters. Avoid common substitutions and do not use memorable keyboard paths. Try a multiword phrase method using non-related words and even different languages. Or build a random sentence and transform it into a password by using only the first two letters of each word. “The library is my favorite place to visit,” becomes “ThLiIsMyFaPlToVi.” Create a different password for each account. Using the same password gives a hacker access to everything.

With a password required for practically everything, it can be easy to get lazy with your passwords. Consider using a secure password manager that not only stores all your login credentials but also helps you ensure they are strong.  Some password managers also monitor the Dark Web and will alert you if it finds any of your login credentials have been breached.

Additionally, experts advise encrypting all of your sensitive data.  Protecting data at rest and in transit is becoming the norm.   

Forecasts indicate that nearly $125 billion will be spent worldwide on information security as businesses brace themselves against cyberattacks.

The top cybersecurity threats foreseen for 2019 involve software update supply chain attacks; phishing attacks designed to steal personal information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details; ransomware in which a hacker takes your computer hostage until you pay; and botnets that use a network of compromised machines controlled remotely by hackers who can steal company or personal information.

Consider creating a security awareness program within your organization if you do not already have one.  It is not enough to briefly review systems and data protection with your employees annually, quarterly, or even monthly.  Your employees are on the front line.  They are targets and, unfortunately, people are usually the weakest link in any equation as they can be tricked by a sophisticated criminal intent on breaking into your network and stealing your valuable data.  Keep security topics in front of your employees every week even if only sharing with them examples of how other organizations were breached to illustrate the level of danger that exists.

Keep up on cybersecurity events in the news. Stay alert and talk to your fellow employees. People will always be the weakest link in any equation. Think before you click on any link or file attachment and know who you are talking to on the other end of a phone call or email message. Trust but verify.

Being vigilant and on guard needs to be ingrained into daily behaviors until it becomes second nature.

For further information, save the date for an upcoming FREE webinar, “Cybersecurity Awareness 101” set for May 9. Click HERE to register.

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