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Top Security Tips to Stay Safe Online in the COVID-19 Era

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the ways we live, work, and deal with the technology. Many people are working online, students are studying virtually, and we’re all relying more and more on social media to stay connected with other people.

Since we spend much more time on the Internet, it’s vital to remember the basics of online safety. These guidelines make a solid foundation for digital security, but extra steps in this direction will only further reduce the risk.

Here are some practices we recommend everyone to adopt to increase personal cybersecurity.

Keep devices secure and updated

Use antivirus, automatic security updates, and firewalls. Cyber threats are the most dangerous for the devices that are easy to compromise, such as those without a firewall, antivirus software, or security updates. To decrease this risk, you can turn on automatic updates to guarantee that your devices have the necessary security fixes, antivirus solutions that run continuously as well as a firewall. New computers have most of these features enabled from the start, but it’s always a good idea to check.

Don’t overlook networking devices. Cybersafety requires working with your networking devices, as well. Just like with computing devices, apply all updates for your networking devices. Many of them have default passwords, so attackers wouldn’t find it hard to compromise. So make sure that your networking devices don’t use default admin passwords or the ones that are easy to guess. It’s also a good idea to renew your Wi-Fi password to make it stronger using a mix of upper- and lowercase letters combined with symbols and numbers.

You can use Wi-Fi encryption options in order to get access. Such wireless access points allow to require passwords to have access to the network. Take advantage of this feature, and you’ll ensure only approved users are on your network.

Guard your identity, protect your privacy

As we connect more and more of our lives to the virtual space, your digital identity needs more and more protection. Strong passwords shouldn’t even be discussed, they are a must; biometric authentication (your face or fingerprint) is a good idea, and, if possible, use multi-factor authentication (MFA). To mention a few, Microsoft and Google both have free and easy to set up and use MFA applications.

Be careful in chats and conferencing services. The pandemic has forced us to spend a lot of time on online conferences and video calls, so it’s crucial to think about privacy. Answer these questions before trying new services:

  • Who can join the meeting/call?
  • Can someone record it? If yes, is there a chance for participants to know?
  • Are the chats preserved and shared?
  • Where are the shared files stored?

Use blur of the background or pictures to hide your location. One of the popular features used on video conferencing tools like Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams is blurring or changing the background. This can enhance your privacy between, for example, home and work environments.

Protect business data while you’re home

Use the correct file-sharing service for the task. While you’re working remotely, it’s really easy for lines to disappear between work and home. It’s necessary to make sure that your business data does not mix with your personal data. Don’t forget to use business services, for example, SharePoint or OneDrive for Business, to deal with content for work. Avoid using consumer offerings for the information regarding business while you’re remote. If possible, think about enabling Windows Information Protection to decrease the risk of accidental (and intentional) business data leakage through consumer services.

Use device encryption. It’s going to ensure that the data on your device is safe from unwanted access in case your device is stolen or lost.

Recognize phishing and identity scams

During the current crisis, cybercriminals started to utilize new tricks related to coronavirus. So we have to be as careful at home now as we are at the office or classroom. These are a few of frequent attack methods to keep in mind:

Identity compromise. Criminals are trying to steal your digital identity to use it for monetization, spam, and access. Be aware of the unexpected sites asking you to sign in. The situation is the same with MFA requests. It’s very straightforward: if you didn’t initiate the request, don’t verify it. Instead, report suspected sites.

Phishing. Be cautious with the unbelievably good offers, or those that pressure time, and promise free stuff.

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