In modern society, where online activities are a crucial part of everyday life, protecting ourselves from cyber threats is more needed than ever. While technology has made our lives easier, it also exposes us to many risks. The best way to counteract this is by becoming a human firewall and blocking external threats. Let's explore what that means and how you can empower yourself against cyber threats.
What are human firewalls
In the same way a hardware firewall protects computers and networks by monitoring and controlling traffic, a human firewall is the first line of defense against cyber attacks. It is having a mindset, knowledge, and responsible actions as individuals in safeguarding your and your organization's digital assets. Being a human firewall means taking responsibility for your online security and adopting best practices to reduce risks and vulnerabilities.
To be an effective human firewall you must educate yourself about various kinds of cyber threats and attack vectors. You can do this by staying informed about tactics criminals use, like phishing, malware, common scams, and social engineering. Keeping up with the latest cybersecurity news and blogs can help you understand these threats and learn how to combat them.
Maintain Secure Passwords
Passwords are one of the keys to the kingdom, so it is crucial for them to be strong. Passwords should be unique to each account. Avoid using things that can easily be guessed, such as family members or pet names, birthdates, or social security numbers. Creating a complex password (one that utilizes numbers, symbols, and capital letters) is a requirement for most sites, but adding length to the password helps protect it from attacks. If having long, complex, and unique passwords sounds daunting, employ one of the many password management tools. Tools like LastPass allow you to securely store your passwords in the cloud and make it easy to keep track of your passwords and other information you need to be secured. Multi-factor authentication is another layer of protection that is good to use whenever possible.
Be Safe While Browsing
Many threats are malicious websites, phishing links in your email, or files infected with malware. One way to check if the source is secure is to hover your mouse over the link to view the web address it is linked to in order to determine if it is legitimate. Ensure that the site is a trusted source. Before downloading an attachment from an email or a website, verify that it is also from a legitimate source and be sure to scan it for malware once downloaded. To go a step further, upload the file to VirusTotal to scan it against over 50 tools at once to check for malware.
Keep Watch for Phishing Attacks
Phishing is one of the most common and successful techniques in a cyber criminal's arsenal. Be cautious with any email that contains attachments, links, or requests for any personal data. Double-check links to be sure they are going to legitimate sites before clicking, even if it is from a trusted sender.
Keep Your Software Up-to-date
Having operating systems and software outdated opens you up to vulnerabilities that can be exploited for various uses. Keep your operating system and applications up to date to help reduce the risk. Enabling automatic updates can help simplify this process.
Protect your data
Protecting your personal information should be a priority for everyone. Always be careful about where sensitive information is shared. Review your privacy settings in social media and periodically check what permissions you have granted to applications and sites. Using your Gmail or Facebook account as a form of Single Sign On may be convenient, but you should always verify that you are not turning over more information than is needed. Back up your important documents and files regularly, and ensure backups are encrypted.
As our lives increasingly rely on online activities, it is crucial to remain mindful of the evolving nature of cyber threats. By becoming a human firewall, you are more informed and empowered with the means to safeguard your online presence. Practicing safe browsing habits, keeping up to date on security trends, and utilizing strong, unique passwords reduces the likelihood of a successful attack. Following these techniques will makes you a good human firewall and create a safer environment for everyone.
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