National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) was launched in 2003 and 17 years later, this annual initiative continues to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. It encourages individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace, stressing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity.
In a recent survey by Sophos, 93% of Indian organizations were impacted with public cloud cybersecurity incidents. It was found that India saw the most security incidents in the cloud. Amidst the stark contrast between the need to improve cybersecurity, and the actuality of its implementation, there is a growing need to create awareness amongst the end users on how they can ensure safety of their data and devices. This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we bring you our top five tips on what you, as a user, can do to be CyberSmart.
Use a strong password: Having to manage a large number of applications and software, the easiest option for most users would be to pick a password that is easy to remember, and then apply it across the board. While this might be a convenient option, it is definitely not the safest. Cybercriminals these days use tools that sniff out passwords reused on other sites to make their work easier and to make the stolen passwords and data more lucrative on the dark web. Hence, it is recommended that you choose strong passwords, using different alpha-numerical combinations, as well as change them periodically.
Opt for two factor authentication: The rule of thumb should be: when creating any digital account, always set up two-factor authentication (2FA). It’s a common practice to login to accounts using multiple devices, most often of colleagues, or people we trust. Just trusting the person is never enough. It is their machines that you must trust. In case, you have logged into a network on a PC with malware, you are essentially letting cybercriminals access your data. In such cases, having 2FA, helps to prevent egregious attacks where a cybercriminal tries to login to your account and steal your data.
Safeguard your entry points: All it takes is one weak entry point, to allow a cybercriminal access to your entire network. By forgetting to close down the access points that are not being used, this can be an open door for hackers to enter, and place malware on to your network.
Lookout for signs of a scam: Phishing attacks have become increasingly common these days, and are using several tactics to target vulnerable users. At the same time, there are often several tell-tale signs of a scam in the making, which you can easily spot, if you keep a sharp lookout for them. For example, emails with improper grammar, and spelling mistakes are one of the biggest giveaways. Additionally, links that promise freebies and then request you to enter card details too are illegitimate.
Frequently update your system: Inexpensive home internet devices are prime targets for hackers. A best practice is to update these frequently, and apply all security patches quickly. In the case of older devices, which no longer receive firmware updates, they should be immediately switched out for newer models, to prevent hackers from controlling traffic through routers, and implementing various attacks.
Cybercrime is advancing at a rate which we can no longer afford to take lightly, or ignore. No organization or user today can be considered too small to be a potential victim, hence there is a strong need to create awareness on phishing or targeted attacks. Furthermore, the increased dependence on technology to stay connected, and ensure business continuity, has opened the floodgates to a whole new set of potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities that users must be conscious of. By practising these simple tips and maintaining good IT hygiene, we can be cybersmart, and safe on the internet.
By Neelesh Kripalani, Sr. VP & Head- Center of Excellence, Clover Infotech