Top 5 Cyber Defense Tips to Stay Secure at Home & Work

Recognizing the potential risks and knowing how to protect yourself, your company, and your clients from cyberthreats is half the battle. Below are five quick tips to keep in mind when it comes to cybersecurity.

1. Think before you click the link.

Be wary of unfamiliar URLs, such as those which may be contained in emails from unknown parties. If you receive an email with an unfamiliar link, or it looks different than you expected, don't click on it. You could be opening the door for a cyberattack. Instead, hover over the link to reveal the destination of the URL, or alternatively, do a separate search for the website or simply enter the URL directly into your browser's navigation bar.

2. Learn to spot phishing attempts.

If you receive a suspicious email at work, don't open or even click on it. Instead, contact your IT security department. Suspicious emails often have a sense of urgency, contain typos, misspellings, and/or grammatical errors. Such emails request sensitive data, such as bank account information, or social security numbers. They may also contain requests to bypass internal processes and procedures.

3. Install the latest updates.

Cybercriminals look for outdated or unpatched systems in order to leverage vulnerabilities. Therefore, it's critical to always install the latest updates for your operating system, browser, and any applications installed on your devises. Promptly installing updates is an easy way to protect yourself and your organization from becoming a cyber-target.

4. Use caution with unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks.

It's especially important to be cautious when connecting to Wi-Fi networks while traveling. Not all Wi-FI networks are safe. This is because data may be shared through Wi-Fi connections. The safest way to connect to a network, therefore, is to use a VPN, which can help protect you by creating an encrypted, private connection to the internet.

5. Charge devices with caution.

This tip also applies particularly in cases of business or personal travel. Do not plug your mobile devices into any outlet that's available. This could put you at risk of becoming a victim to malware or data theft. Therefore, it's always a good idea to being a back-up power bank if you're worried about running out of battery power.

What can companies do to protect themselves and their clients?

The single most important thing that companies can do to protect themselves from cyber-breaches is actually quite simple: educate employees about the potential risks and how to guard against them. This is crucial in order to protect the information that's been entrusted to companies and to which employees have access.

It is surprising how many companies do not provide basic cyber-security training to their employees, thereby leaving them in a position to fall for phishing scams, or social engineering scams where they give away sensitive information through email or over the phone. Hackers often look for weak points, and data breaches occur because employees did something they weren't supposed to do or in the alternative, didn't do something that they were supposed to do.

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