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Top Five Ways to Improve Your Personal Cybersecurity

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In an increasingly digital world, an individual’s personal data and information are at risk now more than ever. It is estimated that a cyberattack happens every 39 seconds. One in three Americans will fall victim to a cyberattack. Cybercrimes are increasing as hackers continue to familiarize themselves with technology. It is imperative that you protect your personal data. The best way to combat these various attacks is through building awareness and foundational habits into your daily life. According to a study done by Pew Research, a majority of internet users can answer less than half of the questions on a basic cybersecurity knowledge quiz. Educating yourself on digital best practices will help protect personal information, decreasing the risk of cyberattacks.

To strengthen your personal cybersecurity habits and help mitigate the threat of cyberattacks, incorporate these five best practices:


1. Maintaining updated software

One of the most prominent forms of individual cybersecurity attacks come in the form of ransomware. This is a type of malware that threatens to hold or destroy the victim’s data until paid to return it. As stated by Fortune, the world saw an increase in ransomware attacks by a staggering 105% in 2021. Simply by turning on automatic system updates for your device, keeping desktop browser plugins updated, and updating your systems, you can drastically decrease the chances of a cyberattack on your personal devices.


2. Using strong passwords

Having strong passwords is vital in preventing your data from being hijacked.

According to Verizon’s Cybersecurity Division, in 2018, weak passwords      accounted for 81% of cyberattacks. Make sure your passwords are between 8-64 characters with at least one lowercase letter, one uppercase letter, and four symbols. Also, make sure to reset your passwords at least once a year and never use the same password more than once.


3. Implementing two factor(2FA) or multi-factor authentication when possible

While strong passwords will usually protect your data sufficiently, sometimes advanced hackers are still able to access your data. With two factor or multi-factor authentication, even if your data is compromised a hacker won’t be able to access it without verification from your device. In fact, in 2019, Microsoft reported that 99.9% of automated attacks were blocked with 2FA. 


4. Don’t use public Wi-Fi

Using public Wi-Fi puts your login information, computer security, and any personal information you have stored on your device at risk. This is because a significant amount of public Wi-Fi does not use any encryption, which leaves you vulnerable. As of right now, 24.7% of all public Wi-Fi sources do not use encryption. To avoid this, you can use a VPN, which encrypts the traffic between your device and the VPN source, keeping your data safe. If you don’t have access to a VPN, avoid public Wi-Fi to protect your data.


5. Using anti-virus protection and firewalls

Installing anti-virus protection and firewalls will assist in the prevention of malicious viruses. Anti-virus protection screens out hackers or any other malicious activity on your device. As listed by DataProt, on average, antivirus software is 25% successful at detecting malware. Although anti-virus protection methods and firewalls aren’t perfect, they still add an extra level of security to your devices that could be the difference in putting your data in harm’s way.

 With the integration of these best practices into your daily life, you’ll be on your way to having great cybersecurity habits that keep you at low risk for data breaches. However, be mindful that while these best practices will significantly decrease your risk for personal data loss, there is no sure-fire way to guarantee the complete safety of your digital data. As cybersecurity is an ever-changing industry, remember to regularly check to see if there are new and effective ways to protect yourself.


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