Easy Steps to Protect Yourself From Online Cyber Threats


There have been many recent instances of corporations, such as England’s National Health Service (NHS) and Merck, falling prey to cyber attacks. While it’s concerning that these huge corporations are so vulnerable to cyberattacks, it’s scary that the vulnerability stems from human error. What’s more, the fault doesn’t rest on interns new to the workplace. Full-time employees from Sony in a 2014 cyberattack and even employees from the Pentagon in 2015 endured cyberattacks. Hackers are clever, and it’s important for everyone, corporations and individuals, to take precautions when using the internet or devices. Many of the following precautions may be intuitive, but we all spend so much time on the internet and on our devices that sometimes it’s easy to forget. Even a reflexive click on an email link can give access to a cyber intrusion. As Kara Drapala stated in her blog post on Cisco Umbrella, “No matter how effective--or expensive--the security tools protecting your network are, there’s no way to predict the damage caused by a single careless user.”

As everything in our society is becoming more and more digitalized, we are creating accounts for everything, from banking to Netflix accounts. It may be hard to remember all the accounts and passwords that you create, but it’s important to keep track of them. Here are some tips to keeps your accounts and online experiences as safe as possible:

1. Passwords should contain a strong mix of characters, including uppercase letters and special characters, and should be different for each account. Accounts that are no longer used should be deleted permanently, especially ones that ask for your credit cards such as online shopping websites. Be careful about sharing your passwords with friends and family members and never write them down anywhere.

2. Always be careful clicking on attachments or links in emails you’re not expecting, even if it’s from a person or organization you believe you know. Double-check the email address it was sent to you from and check for any spelling errors in the email or links itself. It may just be one letter that’s off in a link that leads you to your whole device or network being hacked.

3. Always be suspicious anytime someone asks you for any sensitive information over the internet or via a phone call. Never give out any personal information, such as your social security number if you are not communicating in person.

4. Be extremely careful of responding to automated commercial calls. There have been known instances of a caller recording the “Yes” in your response, such as to “Can you hear me?” and “Are you the homeowner?” questions. Your response can be used later as stolen consent to sign up for subscription services or even accessing bank accounts.

5. Never leave your devices open and accessible, even if you are just quickly going up to the countertop to pay for your coffee. Close or lock up any devices. Accessible devices are better targets for hackers to steal because of the ease of gaining access.

6.Check your open accounts on a regular basis for any suspicious activity, such as the account being accessed from an unfamiliar device or location. Be aware of any social media requests from suspicious accounts. If you do see suspicious activity, always log your account out of every device and change your password.

Corporations aren’t the only ones who are targets of cyber intrusions. Anyone who uses and stores data via the internet on any device are potential targets. Don’t let the common misconception that cyberattacks won’t happen to you. Always take these important precautions in securing your devices and networks.

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