5 Ways to Tighten Up Your Digital Security
This week’s news of “big four” global accountancy firm, Deloitte, being hit by a cyber attack is yet another significant breach of sensitive information in a string of cyber crime cases that have soared globally this year.
September’s massive and alarming Equifax breach that compromised the personal information of 143 million Americans came on the heels of several other widely publicized cyber attacks that took place this summer.
Additional threats hailed from the Wannacry ransomware outbreak, Notpetya and Fireball malware infections, and an even more concerning attack reported by The New York Times about the IDT Corporation, a company targeted using two cyberweapons stolen from the National Security Agency.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month
Just in case anyone thinks that the topic of digital protection will begin to lose steam (it won’t), October also brings the U.S. government’s 14th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) campaign. NCSAM is sponsored by the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) within the Department of Homeland Security, and encourages vigilance and protection by all computer users.
Online security attacks are, of course, not limited to only target businesses — recent stories have surfaced about the average consumer facing digital threats ranging from shameless hurricane relief donation scams, to Twitter bots shuttering accounts, and even frightening tales about digital kidnapping.
Why Cyber Crime is Here to Stay: It Pays (A Lot)
Ransomware profits alone are expected to reach a whopping $1 billion in 2017. Cyber crime damage costs have previously been forecasted to hit an astonishing $6 trillion annually by 2021. Furthermore, IDG’s CSO reports, “During the next five years, cybercrime might become the greatest threat to every person, place and thing in the world.”
Taking steps to ensure your online digital security in today’s world is as essential as locking your doors when you leave the house and buckling your seatbelt in the car. That’s why each year, NCSAM rolls out several “themed” weeks to drive national attention to the need for mindful digital defenses in every household.
In our last post, we mentioned our expectation that reliance on email as an identity management utility will continue grow. In the spirit of helping you protect yourself online, Edison offers the following easy to implement best practices to tighten up your digital defenses.
Edison’s 5 Tips to Enhance Digital Security
- Always use two-factor authentication. Using a combination of authentication methods is a quick and painless way to make it harder for cyber criminals to get access to your information. Incorporating SMS to password authentication is one method that is recommended. As they are constantly changed, dynamically generated passcodes are safer to use than fixed (static) log-in information. Biometric security protocols like fingerprint scanning and facial recognition are also becoming more widely adopted to limit access to your personal and unique identifiers.
- Use separate passwords for every account. Reduce risk of an online account breach by using as many different passwords possible for different portals you use. If it’s too hard to remember different passwords for everything you use, at minimum divide up your accounts into categories and use a certain set of passwords for each — for example, use a designated password for your online shopping accounts and a different, more complex password for your financial services, a different password for your social media accounts, etc.
- Beware public wi-fi. While public wi-fi networks are handy to use when you may be in a pinch, the unfortunate reality is that they can create opportunity for malicious third parties to gain access to your data. If you anticipate having to use public wi-fi, make sure you equip yourself with a reputable VPN to protect you from potential threats.
- Monitor companies that make products you use for breaches. If an app or service you use has been compromised in the past, you are best served by knowing about it and taking action. Follow the companies that have access to any of your online credentials to stay aware of any security breaches that could affect you. Our Edison Mail app offers a Security Assistant feature that monitors your email address, notifies you if it is compromised by another company’s breach, and suggests you change your password immediately. We provide this feature for free, but there are other security apps available to also monitor your information against breaches, for a fee.
- Limit your cloud storage. Be mindful of the cloud storage practices that the apps or services you share information with, the less of your sensitive data that is stored on the cloud reduces risk of it ever being compromised if a breach should occur. For example, when you use Edison Mail, your email is fetched from the phone and stored on the phone so there is less information available to be compromised if a breach were ever to occur.