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6 Online Cybersecurity Tips to Keep You Safe

From strengthening your passwords and adding extra layers of protection, to being mindful of phishing attempts and email scams, online cybersecurity has become an important aspect of everyday life of the digital age.


According to IT Governance, over 30 Billion record breaches have occured in 2024.


Hand holding a mobile ohone with a green shield icon and the word protected.
Cybersecurity Important Tips to Keep You Safe

In this article, we will explore six cybersecurity measures you can take to help keep your data and personal information safe. From two-factor authentication to encrypting your data with VPN, read on to learn more about how you can keep your information safe and secure from hackers and cyberattacks.



 

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Why is Online Cybersecurity Important?

In the wake of high-profile cyber-attacks like the WannaCry ransomware attack and the Equifax data breach, it's more important than ever to be on the lookout for cybersecurity risks and how to protect yourself from hackers. If you have the basic knowledge to secure your accounts, you're already one step ahead of hackers.


Cybersecurity is so important because it helps to fortify your accounts and keep criminals out. Failure to secure your accounts with basic security measures and standard routine practices can lead to breaches in your personal network and enable criminal hackers to steal your passwords, sensitive account details, or even worse, your identity.


6 Ways to Improve Your Cybersecurity

Following these simple cybersecurity tips can help make it harder for criminal hackers to access your personal information or infect your computer with malicious software.  


1. Create Strong Passwords

One of the most basic cybersecurity measures you can take is to create strong passwords that makes it difficult for hackers and cyber thieves to crack. Using short passwords with familiar names and dates can make it relatively easy for cyber thieves to infiltrate your accounts and steal your information without you knowing or finding out after it's too late.


In order to create a strong password, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Not utilizing these key tips in your password creation can open you up to risks of cyberattacks. In most cases, browsers like Google and Microsoft Edge offer strong password suggestions. These suggestions are a perfect example of how your passwords should look.


  • Use a combination of characters. Always use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols in your password.

    • Example: 8.fHKL#LLnmno6RH! would be an ideal combination for a strong password.

  • Make passwords at least 9 characters long. Short passwords are much easier to crack than ones that is longer. Keeping your passwords 9 characters long or more will make it far more difficult to gain access to your account.

  • Avoid common names, dates, and places. Using easily guessed words like "password," your name, your pet's name or personal dates are easy targets. Here are some examples of things you should never include in your passwords:

    • Your name

    • Your address

    • Your birth date

    • Anniversary dates

    • Kids names or birth dates

    • Pet names

    • Any personal identifier


2. Enabling Two-factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a good cybersecurity measure you can take to keep your account safe from hackers. In short, two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection that requires you to confirm it's actually you when logging-in to your online accounts.


You should be enabling these security measures on any accounts that hold sensitive data and can include:

  • Email accounts

  • Browser accounts like Google, Edge, Mozilla, etc.

  • Banking and investment accounts

  • Insurance accounts

  • Social media accounts

  • Cloud storage accounts

  • Password managers

  • Internet and VPN services

  • Online shopping accounts like Amazon

  • Healthcare provider accounts


Setting up and enabling two-factor authentication is surprisingly an easy way to tighten up your cybersecurity. After you turn it on, you'll automatically be prompted for the secondary code whenever you try logging in to your account.


Another great security feature is authentication apps, which allow you to receive a secret passcode that you get via an app on your phone. Once the code is generated, you'll have about 60 seconds to use the code until it expires. If the code hasn't expired, you go back to the site requiring the code and enter it to gain access. Both Google and Microsoft offer excellent authenticator apps you can download from the Play Store.


Now, you may be tempted to ignore this essential security step because it's a minor inconvenience, but not as inconvenient as having your accounts hacked or your identity stolen.


3. Storing Passwords Securely

When it comes to choosing the best way to store your passwords, you want to make sure you're using a password manager. A password manager stores all of your usernames and passwords in an encrypted database, making it extremely hard to access.


Browsers like Google and Edge allow users to safely secure their passwords with encryption technology. And these browsers will require you to type in a passcode in order to reveal those passwords.


Also, these services can offer password checks to ensure your passwords are not too short, are vulnerable to hacking, or are being used multiple times over several accounts.


Google Password Checker

Microsoft Edge Password Checker


Another great cybersecurity idea is to maintain your passwords in a spreadsheet and store that file in an encrypted vault. Services like OneDrive (this is an affiliate link), Dropbox and McAfee, and many others, offer encrypted vault technology to store passwords in file form and require authentication to open and access files stored in the vault. Many of these vaults require two-factor authentication and are passwordless so you don't need to remember a password.


Encrypted Vault


This is an inexpensive way to secure your passwords and uses two-factor authentication to access the vault.


4. Phishing Awareness

Phishing is a type of online attack where scammers try to trick you into giving them personal information or money. They may send you an email that looks like it’s from a real company or website, or they may create a fake website that looks like a real one.


Suspicious looking email addresses that don't match the company's domain are usually the easiest way to catch these scammers. Always inspect the sender email address and if it don't look right, it probably isn't legit.


If you think you’ve been targeted by a phisher, don’t respond to the message, or click any links. Instead, report the sender using the spam button on your email provider. You can also visit the Anti-Phishing website for more information on phishing and how to protect yourself.


5. Enable Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a great way to add an extra layer of cybersecurity to your online activity. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a server in another location, making it difficult for anyone to track or monitor your activity.


There are many VPN providers available, and some are better than others. When choosing a VPN provider, make sure to do your research and select one that has a good reputation and is known for being reliable. 


Anti-virus software like McAfee and Norton have optional add-ons to their software packages to give subscribers added security.


Operating systems like Microsoft have built in options to set up a VPN locally on your computer.


And some internet service providers offer VPN services to add an extra layer of privacy when surfing on the internet.


Once you have chosen a provider, setting up your VPN is fairly simple. Most providers will have step-by-step instructions on their website. In general, you will need to download the software onto your device, run the program, and then connect to the server of your choice.


Using a VPN can slow down your internet connection slightly, and in some cases, block access to certain sites and wi-fi features. But the trade-off is worth it for the added cybersecurity and privacy on the web. 


6. Update Devices and Backup Your Files

It is essential that you keep your devices updated with the latest security and fixes to avoid vulnerabilities. Avoid putting off device updates and make it a habit to maintain the most recent security measures on mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and desktop devices. Hackers will often exploit devices and systems that neglect to implement security updates and use these weaknesses to gain access to your device.


Also, get in the habit of backing up sensitive files and data to either a secure cloud system or use an external hard drive you can disconnect from your device when not in use. You may even want to back up your cloud storage to an external hard drive just to be extra safe.


Final Thoughts on Cybersecurity

By implementing even just a few of the security measures on our list, you can help keep your data safe from hackers and cyber criminals.


  • Create longer and stronger passwords that make it difficult to guess. And don't use personal information in passwords to make it easier to remember.


  • Be sure to enable two-factor authentication where it is necessary to secure accounts that contain sensitive data like personal or financial information.

  • Store your passwords securely in a password manager or cloud vault to ensure your passwords are protected and harder for criminals to access.

  • Check emails addresses for suspicious looking sign that it is not from the original sender. And avoid the tempatation to click on any links you don't feel 100% certain they are legit.


  • If possible, set up a virtual private network to mask your browsing and network activity.


  • And lastly, keep updates to your devices current and back your files up to the cloud, an external device or both.


Make it your goal today to set aside some time and learn how to secure your accounts with an extra layer of security.


 

Picture of Lance Ziegler smiling.

Article by Lance Ziegler, CDMP


Lance is a certified digital marketing pro with over 12 years in the music industry. He specializes in auditing, website design and development, press kit development and music marketing release strategies. Contact me today to help you plan your next release.


 

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