Safe Computing

How to stay Cyber-Safe

Posted in Protect Yourself by on October 18th, 2022

Note: This post is from October of 2022. While the information is still relevant, click here for the current CyberSecurity Month post

There are a lot of ways that hackers and other malicious actors can try to compromise your cybersecurity. With this constant danger, keeping yourself safe and secure online is extremely important. Below, you’ll find some helpful tips to be aware of whenever you’re browsing the web.

Be aware of where you are and what you click

When using the web, have a good idea of what it is that you want to accomplish. Before clicking through a website, spend some time familiarizing yourself with where the site’s buttons are, where ads are, and which buttons would likely take you to where you want to be. If you’ve spent some time making sure you know the layout of a webpage, you are much less likely to make errors in completing your tasks. Staying aware of how a site works also helps protect you from cybersecurity threats that prey on people not thinking about where they’re clicking.

Protect your identity

Many websites let you create accounts, where you build a digital identity with that site through a username. To protect your identity, make a username that doesn’t have personal information in it, such as your name, age, or location. If a website asks you to enter personal information, make sure you’re well informed about what the website is and how it will use the data that you provide it.

Check in with your antivirus software

If you use a windows PC, it has likely come equipped with Microsoft’s first-party antivirus program, which can be found in the Windows Security App. In order to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your antivirus, make sure to check its protection reports every now and then to see if you need to take any actions to protect your PC. It’s also a good idea to check your device for any updates, which can provide important security features to help protect your system from current threats. For more information on antivirus software, check out our article on the topic.

Make strong passwords

Your passwords should be regularly updated, and difficult for others to remember. It’s good practice to use a different password for each program that you use, as a compromised password can easily lead to data theft. If you need help making a strong password, try using Missouri S&T’s password requirements. Following these will help ensure that your passwords are as strong as possible, which adds another level of protection to your data.

Have a backup of your data

In order to prevent cyberattacks or computer malfunctions from compromising your data, have a backup of important files stored on a separate storage device. This helps keep your data physically safe from anything that might try attacking your primary drive. For extra security, keep your backup drive unplugged from your computer entirely. This will further protect it from any hazards that might occur on your computer, ensuring that you always have access to the files you need if and when you need them.

Know how hackers operate

Many large data thefts don’t involve anything close to what we might picture when we imagine hacking. Many hacks rely much more on tricking employees into providing data (or at least access to data) through social engineering. Phishing is one of the more popular ways that a malicious actor can use to try to steal data or other sensitive information. These attacks involve the attacker acting like a trustworthy source to trick someone into giving away information or data. Read this article about how one phishing attempt targeting researchers used fake senders as well as fake responders to make the scam appear more trustworthy. Another article finds that most successful phishing attacks are ones that impersonate HR, IT departments, or even other employees in order to build a false sense of trust in the victim. Missouri S&T is no stranger to phishing attacks, so keeping our campus aware of how these scams operate is of the utmost importance. Knowing how to detect a phishing scam helps keep all of us safe from harmful cyberattacks and data breaches. See our article about phishing for more information.