Securing Your Devices in 2020: 3 Risk Factors & How to Boost Your Cybersecurity

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Cybersecurity

There’s no doubt that technology is changing our lives for the better, be it convenience, communication, or connectivity, we’re living in ways unimaginable even ten years ago.

But the downside of the technological boon is that we are increasingly exposed to cyber criminality on an unprecedented level. Whether it is organized hacking groups or the monetization of user data, your devices and your information are a hot commodity.

That said, there is no reason why you should resign yourself to being a potential victim or convince yourself that you’re okay with leaking data to unscrupulous third-party vendors. Instead, take steps to secure your devices in 2020 and follow good cybersecurity practices.

Here are a few risk factors and how to combat them:

Data leakage

According to security group Digital Shadows’ Director of Security Engineering, Doctor Richard Gold, “Every year billions of credentials such as email addresses, passwords and personal information are shared and traded online by cybercriminals.”

Vast networks of cybercriminals trade in personally identifiable information on the dark web. Information that could spell a financial disaster for you can be bought for as little of US$5 dollars on marketplaces such as Genesis. Falling victim to hackers can be as simple as sharing data with a malicious app, or as seemingly benign as sharing your email address with a free office software program or extension.

Get secure

The first and foremost step towards better data security is good digital hygiene. That means, among other things: never reusing passwords; avoiding common passwords; signing out of accounts; always using strong 12-character passwords whenever possible.

In 2020, some of the most common passwords in use are “qwerty” and “password”. If you’re using something like this to secure an account, you’re asking for trouble. Instead, install a good password manager app such as LastPass and start making it difficult to crack passwords.

Additionally, double-check which apps across all your devices have access to your information. For example, does a scanner app really need to know your location? Does a document conversion extension need to know your browsing history?

Public wifi networks

These can be an absolute godsend when you need to quickly shoot off an email or check something online and you’ve run out of mobile data. But the reality is that open public wifi networks are an unmitigated cybersecurity disaster. From Man in the Middle (MitM) attacks to dedicated malicious networks, you cannot know which threats you’re exposing your device to when you connect.

Get secure

The best advice here is to completely avoid public wifi networks. But that doesn’t work for all users, and some users even rely on public wifi to stay connected at all.

With that in mind, if you find yourself using open networks, even infrequently, consider downloading a VPN app for security. A VPN creates a secure network for you to browse on, stopping any snoopers or would-be attackers from seeing your activity, and encrypting your data in the process.

Malware & viruses

Did you know that each and every day an average of around 350,000 thousand new malicious programs are released into the digital wilds? According to the AV-TEST Institute, July 2020 saw a total of 11.44 million new malware programs and the trend looks set to continue for the remainder of the year.

Malware, or malicious software, is created with the express purpose of wreaking havoc, be it to steal financial information, garner account data, or sometimes, just out of spite. Malware that targets iOS devices also exists, so Apple users shouldn’t be complacent despite an enduring belief that iOS is safer.

Get secure

Choose a good antimalware program and make sure it is protecting all of your devices. One popular choice is Malwarebytes, the company also makes dedicated mobile apps so you can ensure your handheld devices are as secure as your desktop.

You should also use a traditional antivirus in tandem with your antimalware program. Although the former is better suited to the Trojans and worms of old, they still play an essential role in cybersecurity protocols.