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Digital Security

Only You Can Stop Cybercriminals

Manisha Kanodia

Information Systems Manager, University of California, San Diego

Being “always connected” has great advantages, but it also means we must increase our security and privacy awareness as we bring in the enterprise capabilities to our homes.

Any information in the cloud is vulnerable and a potential target for victimization in the cyber domain if not guarded via secure means. To safeguard ourselves, it is imperative to be aware of the basics and get an understanding of day-to-day practices that can help us keep our data safe.

Security is a process, not an end state. It is a behavioral change we must all embody.

Being proactive and aware

If you see a concern about the security of a computer, network, or data you work with, knowing who to contact in your organization or how to get assistance is helpful. Ensuring that you have fulfilled the organization’s required training and taken recommended actions to ensure that your network is secure is also key.

In securing your information, passwords are a first line of defense. Do not write them, do not reuse them, do not share them. Make them strong, but not too complex for you to remember by using the password triad – SNL: Symbol, Number, and mixed case Letters. Create a passphrase and switch characters with symbols based on a pattern you like and remember. Use a password manager to manage all your passwords and use dual authenticators where possible.

Additionally, we can act as human firewalls by following safe practices on the internet and on the phone. For example, notice the difference between “http://” versus “https://,” and check privacy settings on social media. Remember, nothing ever leaves the internet.

Then, when answering the phone, verify the identity of callers before sharing personal information and report through proper channels when something is out of the ordinary.

It’s also important to be careful when clicking links in emails, even if the email address seems to be from a known source, to safeguard against phishing. Take a second to hover over the link and verify the URL.

Connecting safely

Keeping your connections secure is another vital element of cybersecurity. Take preventative measures such as turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use and keep your device in your possession all the time.

Though public WiFi can seem convenient, do not connect to public networks without a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and do not download anything without proper research. Protect your devices with passwords, apply patches and updates regularly, and remember to periodically back up data.

In our personal lives, we do all we can to protect our families from physical harm, and teaching and protecting them in the cyber domain is no different. Being vigilant, being careful, taking protective measures, and having the right level of cyber security acumen can help us stay safe in the digital world.

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