The average cost of a cyber-attack now exceeds $1 million. If you’re looking around your office and wondering where you’d come up with that kind of cash, you aren’t alone. 60% of small businesses fold within six months of a cyber-attack.
However, whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 firm, a new intern at a two-person company, or want a little more security and privacy in your personal internet usage, the tips are all the same. Here are five ways to protect yourself from network security threats.
1#) Use a VPN
VPNs or virtual private networks are highly effective network tools. The most important thing they do is encrypt your internet connection, making it difficult for anybody, not just hackers, but also advertisers, ISPs, or your nosy neighbors, to track what you do online.
By concealing your browsing data, hackers can’t easily find ways to steal your identity, hack your devices, launch malware attacks against you, and find other ways to do harm.
Best of all, VPNs are a practical security tool. Just turn them on anytime you connect your smartphone, computer, or tablet to the internet, and you’ll enjoy a much safer online experience.
2#) Protect Your Network
These days, most people are smart enough to put a password on their home network, at least. Unfortunately, that’s about all they do. Your WiFi network is the portal to all your connected devices, including IoT products like smart TVs, smart locks, and lights.
The first thing you need to do is remove any admin accounts and password access from your network and create one instead with a unique user ID. Likewise, never use the default router name. Hackers can use info like that to find ways to crack into it. Instead, name it something discreet and boring.
You should also routinely change your WiFi password and consider creating a separate network for any guest.
3#) Up Your Password Game
Admit it; you use the same password or slight variations across your online accounts. It’s okay. That’s common. But also really dangerous! Using the same password means that if your password is exposed in a data breach or hackers get their hands on it in another way, it puts all your accounts in jeopardy.
For that reason, you need to secure all accounts with unique, length, and complex characters that combine letters, numbers, and special characters. To help you remember all these tricky new passwords, consider using a password manager.
While you’re at it, be sure to enable multi-factor authentication and biometrics security tools like fingerprint identification for your accounts as well to really enhance your account security.
4#) Update, Update, Update
Hackers may constantly be creating new forms of malware, but most developers, including the folks at Microsoft, generate security patches that can keep you safe. All you have to do is update your software—for free! So stop complaining and start updating!
Updates are crucial, so instead of hitting ignore on that pesky little pop-up, schedule a time when you’re not busy on your devices for updates to install automatically. Getting safer online has never been easier.
5#) Invest in Education
Whether you’re sharing your network with family, friends, coworkers, or employees, a little education goes a long way in preventing cyber-attacks. In addition to the tools and strategies mentioned above, educate those around you about the principles of cyber-hygiene.
Cyber hygiene is all about knowing how to recognize potential online threats and prevent them from happening in the first place. It includes:
- Being on the lookout for phishing scams
- Never downloading or clicking links without verifying first
- Using antivirus and antimalware software
- Enabling a VPN across all your devices
- Backing up and encrypting all files
- Reporting suspicious activity to the authorities
Make these strategies a part of training for anybody who wants to use your network. The bonus is that these tips are useful in all aspects of life.
6#) How to Defend Against Network Security Threats
Unfortunately, there is no 100% guarantee that you’ll never get hacked because there are infinite threats in the online world. With these tools and strategies, you’ll reduce your chance of cyber-attack to as close to zero as possible and minimize the damage that one can do to you. And in the modern Wild West that is the internet, that’s an extremely impressive accomplishment!