Cybersecurity for the non-tech savvy

For anyone who spends any amount of time online, cybersecurity is as important as your physical security. However, for those who consider themselves non-tech savvy, cybersecurity can be a blind spot. In this article, we will present some cybersecurity tips that everyone can understand and follow, regardless of their level of technology expertise.

1) Keep your software updated

You may think that updating software simply means dealing with yet another pesky notification, but this is far from the truth. Older versions of software are often targeted for attack by cybercriminals, as the vulnerabilities in older software versions are well known. To help avoid hacking attempts, make sure you regularly check for and install software updates. Select auto-update for software on all your mobile devices and computers whenever possible. For software that doesn’t update automatically, you will need to regularly check for and apply these updates.

2) Create strong passwords

A strong password is the cornerstone of digital security. Do not use common words or phrases, including your name or birth date. Instead, use a combination of words, numbers, and symbols that are difficult to guess. Also, it is important to not reuse passwords across multiple accounts. It’s estimated that 81% of all breaches occur because of weak or reused passwords.  If you need help remembering and maintaining a list of your passwords, programs like LastPass can help with password management. They even have a free option for one device.

If you think it’s time to reset some of your passwords, learn how to set your WiFi password.

3) Be smart with emails and texts

Cybercriminals use email, text, and other online messaging to attempt to get your personal information. There are several things you can do to safeguard yourself and your devices against these attempts.

  • Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious email senders or online messages. These links or attachments may contain malware that can infect your computer and steal your personal data.
  • Always verify that a message is legitimate before responding or engaging. If you’re not sure, don’t open it and don’t answer.
  • Always check the email address of the sender to ensure it’s from a legitimate source.
  • Do not send personal or sensitive information through email or messages. Be suspicious of any emails or messages requesting such details, even if they appear to come from a known contact or organization. It’s always better to verify the request through a separate communication channel.
  • Use email spam filters and keep your email program updated.

By following these best practices with all of your online messages, you can help keep yourself and your information safer. Get more details about spam safety:

Defense Against Spam | CenturyLink

Protect Yourself From Phishing | CenturyLink

4) Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) is an easy and affordable way to help protect yourself from hacking attempts. A VPN establishes an encrypted connection between your device and the internet, which helps to prevent cybercriminals from intercepting your personal information. This level of encryption is particularly beneficial when using public WiFi networks, which are often targeted by hackers due to their typically weak security measures.

Moreover, a VPN masks your IP address, thereby making it challenging for hackers to track or target your system. This feature, in conjunction with data encryption, provides an additional layer of security, reducing the risk of falling prey to hacking attempts. Thus, using a VPN not only secures your data but also fortifies your online identity against potential security threats.

5) Trust your instincts

Finally, it’s critical that you trust your instincts and stay alert. Our instincts, honed by past experiences and knowledge, often provide us with warning signals when something seems off-kilter. This could range from a suspicious email teeming with grammatical errors to a phone call from an unknown number claiming to represent your bank. Recognizing these signs and listening to your gut can serve as the first line of defense against potential cyberthreats.

Moreover, trusting your instincts in cybersecurity means maintaining a proactive approach towards potential threats. This means not waiting for a mishap to occur before taking action. If a website feels dubious or an email appears uncharacteristic, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Preventative actions inspired by our instincts, such as enabling two-factor authentication or regularly updating passwords, can provide an extra layer of security, often thwarting cyberattacks before they occur.

Parting thoughts

Maintaining robust cybersecurity measures is paramount. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are crucial tools for safeguarding online activities, encapsulating data transfers in a secure, encrypted tunnel, and preserving user anonymity. Exercising caution while handling emails and online messages helps avoid phishing and spam attacks, which are common vehicles for malware dissemination. Creating strong, complex passwords is another fundamental step to protect user accounts from brute-force or dictionary attacks. Lastly, keeping software updated ensures the latest security patches are implemented, mitigating the risk of vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit.


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