As the Internet has grown from a digital registry into the most powerful application of the modern day, maleficent bad actors have developed highly specialized techniques to steal user data and financial records. Yet despite the many security protocols developed to protect users, most cyber-attacks exploit simple gaps in user behavior. By training users to identify and avoid potential risks, organizations and individuals alike can protect themselves from cyber threats.
Basic online protocols, such as a VPN, anti-malware software, and Wi-Fi encryption can help netizens protect their data but the most effective ways to protect user information is to train individuals to create strong passwords, avoid clicking suspicious links, and identify potential social engineering attacks. With these methods, anyone can stay safe while browsing online.
A Strong Password Will Protect Users from Data Breaches
One of the most common ways that hackers gain access to users’ data is by exploiting their weak passwords. In fact, around 81% of data breaches occur due to weak or stolen passwords. This is entirely avoidable, yet many netizens still rely on simple and predictable passwords, such as 123456 or a sequence of letters.
A strong password should be at least 12 characters long and includes a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Netizens should also avoid using easily guessed words like “password” or easily accessible personal information, such as their birthdays, last names, or email address.
An Anti-Malware Program Will Prevent Infection
Anti-malware software is a program that helps to protect your computer from malware, which is any software designed to harm your device or steal your personal information. Malware can be installed on your computer without your knowledge when you click on a malicious link or download an infected attachment. Once installed, malware can give hackers access to your personal information, including your passwords, financial information, and browsing history.
Anti-malware software can scan your computer for malware and remove it if it is found. Although there are many paid subscription services that offer comprehensive anti-malware and anti-virus protection, users don’t have to spend a fortune on protection. Even quality free services can provide enough support to prevent a cyber-attack.
A VPN Will Encrypt Online Traffic
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a service that encrypts Internet traffic and routes it through a server in another location. This makes it difficult for anyone to track users’ online activity or steal their personal information. VPNs are especially useful when using public Wi-Fi, as they can help to protect data from being intercepted by malicious actors.
If a hacker does attempt to exploit the connection, they’ll be routed through several layers of encrypted data, making it much harder for them to access users’ information. However, a VPN cannot protect someone from a weak password. Even with a VPN, a mediocre hacker could still access a user’s information by simply guessing their password.
Avoid Clicking Suspicious Links
One of the most common ways that users become infected with malware is by clicking on a malicious link. These links can be found in emails, on websites, or in social media messages. They may appear to be from a legitimate source, but they will often lead to a fake website that is designed to steal your personal information.
Be sure to hover over links before clicking on them to ensure that they are going to the correct website. If you are unsure, you can always type the URL into your browser to be sure or use one of the sites at this link to test the website.
Identify Potential Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering is a type of attack in which hackers use manipulation to convince users to give them access to their accounts or personal information. This can be done through phishing emails, fake customer service calls, or even in person.
Be wary of any unexpected requests for personal information or requests to click on a link. If you are unsure, you can always contact the company or individual directly to verify the request.
The Bottom Line
As advanced as cyber security has gotten, the overwhelming majority of security breaches can be attributed to basic human error. By training netizens to use secure passwords, download anti-malware protection, and avoid suspicious links and social engineering attacks, malicious cyber thieves will have a harder time exploiting gaps in users’ knowledge.