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6 Cyber Security Tips for the Average Joe

cyber security tips

Cyber security is complicated. Cyber security tips are not. To be an expert, it takes years of training and experience to ensure that all aspects of what can go wrong are accounted for and understood. But for the Average Joe, that amount of time and commitment is an unrealistic expectation. That’s why these six sexy, simple cyber security tips should be studied seriously by anyone who uses the internet (that’s you!).

1. Check if you have been compromised

How do you do that? Check haveibeenpwned.com which has an easy search function to see if your email address has been leaked from some of the biggest hacks to date. While this site does not cover every leak, it should give you some insight into just how big of a risk cybersecurity is to our ever-connected society. If you do not show up on this site now, be wary that the next breach could have already happened, and you don’t even know about it yet.

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2. Two Factor Authentication

Two Factor Authentication, also known as 2FA or MFA (multi-factor authentication), is a security practice in which a user adds an additional layer or security to any login credentials. By enabling 2FA, you require not only a password and username when logging in, but additional verification that you, and only you, have. Generally this is a randomly generated key that is sent through your mobile device. This key resets every thirty seconds or so. It’s also referred to as a Time-based One-time Password Algorithm (TOTP). Woah, acronyms – sound overwhelming and intense?? It’s really nothing to be scared of.

Perhaps you have seen something like this on some IT experts belts, which is an example of a physical 2FA process. Or maybe you have seen the Google Authenticator app, which can be used for a more secure login process anywhere you take your phone. To install Google Authenticator please head to Google’s support page here. We have 2FA as a mandatory part of our security posture here at ZeroFOX. At the end of the day, all your logins, from email to bank to social will be exponentially harder to hack.

3. Password managers

Here is where our cyber security tips get simple: find a password manager. In the age of constant connectivity and login after login (both personal and professional), a password manager is crucial in establishing a secure digital life. Password reuse is a huge big problem, and one stolen password often means the attacker can access a slew of different accounts.

There are a variety of password managers available, but there are three that stand out from the rest: Dashlane, LastPass and 1Password.

  • Dashlane: This is one of ZeroFOX’s favorite options when it comes to password managers. It makes the password manager experience almost feel like a game, making a typically annoying process into something fun. This is supported on all major platforms.

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  • LastPass: The first well-rounded password manager available is still the go to for many IT professionals. LastPass can do a slew of things: remembering your passwords (duh!), easy auditing of your passwords, use stronger passwords in general and automatically change a password for you if a service has been compromised (great feature given the increase in breaches).

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  • 1Password: This password manager is praised for its app interface and ease of use. Working across all platforms and having a one time fee for premium access to mobile apps and extensions make it popular with many companies and their teams.

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4. Reset ye olde passwordes

While not using “123456” or “password” as your password seems like obvious advice, you may be surprised that up until 2011 about 9% of all passwords were either one of those two. Fast forward to 2015 and those two only account for 1%. This decrease in bad passwords should not be a moment for celebration, as many people still use weak protection for securing sensitive information. When you create a new account, you are often required to use a CAPITAL letter or some sp3cia! ch4ract3r; these are just band-aids to a potential security compromise. Using a complex password through a password manager that requires 2FA is your best bet. Remember, reusing passwords is a big no-no, and you should be sure to keep all your passwords to yourself. As it turns out, the best way to make your password harder to crack is simply to make it longer; the more characters, the greater possible password permutations.

5. Update privacy settings

As a social media security company, we hope that everyone stays safe and secure on social media and other online platforms. But you ask, how do I do this? We recommend downloading the AVG plug-in for starters. This will give you basic protection while surfing the web. Second, spend some time looking through your social media settings. Are you sure you’re comfortable sharing everything you post? What is public? What is visible only to connections? These settings are always changing so being up to date on these changes can be the difference between that old embarrassing photo being public, or not.

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6. Curate your connections

Cleaning out “friends,” followers, connections and more can take some serious time. While having the most connections may have seem like a popularity contest, it is also a huge liability to both your personal and professional life. The more connections you have, the more potential ways for a fraudulent or compromised account to send you a malicious link. Not everyone is as aware as you are, and friends may share things they don’t realize are malicious. Remember that while these networks are social in nature, that does not mean that they are particularly safe.

These cyber security tips are meant to help secure your online presence, but can not ensure complete safety. Cyber criminals are constantly coming up with new ways of compromising your information. The best defense is vigilance. If it smells phishy, it probably is.

Stay safe online this year with our cyber security tips!