Is education the best form of defence?

If every single person was aware of the different ways in which they can be personally targeted and understands the basic security precautions to take on the internet, maybe, just maybe, the rate of data breaches can decline.

Last week marked the end of October. When you think of events in October, you tend to think of Halloween, but it also marks an important date on the cyber security calendar, namely Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Not, perhaps, two events we would immediately link, but they do have uncanny similarities. Monsters and evil beings walk the night; people create clever costumes and disguise themselves in a variety of different ways and everyone’s on their toes about the next big scare. Doesn’t this sound a lot like the state of the internet nowadays? Hackers will try to disguise themselves to keep under the radar and evade detection from security or stay benign on a network to further inflict damage.

Cyber Security Awareness Month is aimed at ensuring everyone has “the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online.” Basically, it’s a chance to educate the public on cyber security and how they can improve their ‘cyber hygiene’.

The cyber security market is estimated to grow to $170 billion (USD) annually by 2020, and is not showing any signs of declining. The market has a plethora of different vendors offering a variety of different solutions to try keep you safe. However, the number of stories regarding data breaches are not showing any decline, so what’s the problem? Can we do more to educate end users on how to avoid being the next victim of cybercrime?

This is where Cyber Security Awareness month can work its magic. If every single person was aware of the different ways in which they can be personally targeted and understands the basic security precautions to take on the internet, maybe, just maybe, the rate of data breaches can decline.

So, what security fundamentals have I learnt from Cyber Security Awareness Month?

1)      Don’t nibble on the hook – Be mindful of suspicious phishing-mails, links, and/or attachments which aim to collect your personal data. It is important to always double-check for misspellings and the credibility of the sender. Hackers will often create a spoof sender email address by changing just one character or part of an email address.

2)      Defend yourself – Keep all software on any of your devices update, whether that be your computer, laptop or mobile phone. Having automatic updates enabled on your devices is the easiest way to improve your cyber hygiene.

3)      Create strong passwords – Having multiple strong passwords can go a long way in terms of keeping the bad guys out. Downloading a password manager can create strong passwords for you, then store them all in one secure place and can log you in to sites automatically.

 

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