As users or end-users in IT terms, we often receive notices and trainings to keep our company and client data safe. These tips are always helpful, yet the information does not readily translate to personal cybersecurity diligence.
Our accompanying podcast, “Personal Cybersecurity Habits You’re Overlooking,” solicits advice from Withum’s Julie Tracy, Executive Cybersecurity Advisor. Julie shares informative tips and steps to take immediately to protect personal information.
Below are a few key takeaways and highlights of the practical advice.
What is password hygiene? Password hygiene is an industry term for suggesting strong password creation, ongoing maintenance of those passwords, and keeping the passwords safe and protected. Some of the common password hygiene practices are:
- Never re-use a password(s)
- Do not share your password(s)
- Make password(s) unique
- Do not save the password(s) and login(s) on paper or any other unencrypted means
Passphrases: A passphrase is a longer password containing special characters and a combination of words symbolizing a phrase or sentence designed to increase security. These are commonly recommended as part of good password hygiene, as well. Passphrases typically go beyond the 8-alphanumeric character recommendation for basic password requirements on apps and websites.
Consider a password manager: Similar to passphrases, a password manager application is often included on the list of good password hygiene practices. Password managers, such as Dashlane, or others available to individuals, are secure software tools that track and store your unique passwords, allowing the user to remember ‘one’ master password for all logins.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
What is MFA? Many of us use multi-factor authentication already. MFA is, at least, a 2-step verification process for a user to gain access to a website or app. The steps often include a password and then a separate authentication method, such as a passcode delivered via text/call/e-mail or an authenticator app that has a random code you enter to complete your authentication.
When should you use it? MFA should be used anytime it is offered to ensure you are always the person accessing the website or app. MFA is common in banking and work settings but should be considered for all websites and apps, including social media, e-mail, shopping, etc. Remember, do not approve an MFA authentication if you are not attempting to login a website or app.
Connected Devices and Home Networks
Change your default passwords: Many connected devices, such as smart speakers, doorbells, TVs, etc., require set-up with our home networks. These devices and items often have default passwords to allow for easy set-up. Once connected, the default passwords should be changed for better protection and to close off entry points to your home network.
Lock down your home wi-fi: Set unique passwords and limit access to your home network, no matter which internet service provider you choose. Like your smart devices, there are standard passwords with your internet service provider (ISP) router, which should all be reconfigured once connected.
Consider an alternate network: Create a separate wi-fi network in your home to connect your ‘other’ smart devices and one in which any guests (family, friends, etc.) can connect when visiting your home. The other smart devices include smart speakers, doorbells, refrigerators, TVs, etc. Basically, any items or people that are not your own immediate family laptops and phones.
Check for hardware and software updates monthly: Many of these ‘other’ smart devices, like our phones and laptops, need updates. It is a good idea to check for hardware and software updates at least once a month for better protection from outside threats.
Install internet security software: Most internet service providers (ISPs) offer a basic package for internet security software when you subscribe to their internet. While this is a good idea, a better recommendation is to buy your own software to protect your devices, home, and family from potential threats. Software packages are readily available and offer an added layer of security and peace of mind.
Our discussion on the podcast delivers just that – peace of mind – with all the tangible, practical tips and expert advice Julie offers from her personal and professional experience. The tips here only begin to scratch the surface.
Tune into the end of the podcast to hear our lightning round of questions, where we cover an assortment of questions from:
- What tips Julie instilled in her kids to keep them cyber secure?
- When you are breached, what do you do next?
- Whether you should subscribe to LifeLock?
- When to be using ‘trash’ e-mails?
- What are the best cybersecurity tips for social media?
- Whether storing your credit card information on websites is a good idea?