With November 30th marking the annual Computer Security Day, now is a great time to review some of the best practices for keeping your sensitive information secure at work and in your personal life.
Here are six simple steps you can take to help keep your data safe:
- Beware of Phishing
Phishing takes many forms, and it’s everywhere. Watch for unsolicited messages prompting you to login, reset your account, or take similar action. Just by clicking an embedded link, you may unwittingly download spyware capable of infiltrating your computer. Today’s phishing scams are more sophisticated than ever, and it’s not always easy to spot harmful emails. In fact, phishing emails can sometimes even appear to come from a familiar site or business. If you’re unsure of a message’s legitimacy, check with your company’s information security team before opening a link or attachment. Remember: If it looks fishy, it’s probably phishing.
- Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
If your system has a multi-factor authentication option, be sure to enable it. Multi-factor authentication involves entering a secondary identifier, such as a temporary code or token, in addition to your current login credentials. You may already use this essential feature to access your banking and credit-card information online. Multi-factor authentication can create a layered defense, making it more difficult for unauthorized persons to access your sensitive information.
- Use Secure Wi-Fi
Accessing trusted networks has become increasingly important with the prevalence of mobile workforces. Though it may be impossible to avoid using public Wi-Fi altogether, you should avoid sending sensitive information through unsecure networks—such as those found in airports, hotels, and restaurants. If working remotely, it’s best to utilize a virtual private network (VPN) whenever possible.
- Create Complex Passwords
Be creative in designing your passwords, and don’t use the same one for every account. A recommended tip for creating complex passwords is to start with a phrase—one that’s easy to remember, but not so easy to guess—and then incorporate unique stylizations, abbreviations, and special characters. For example, “Mary had a little lamb” becomes “MerryHaLitt!e!amb.”
- Change Passwords Routinely
It’s best to change your passwords at least every three to six months. The aforementioned creativity should also carry over to this process. Aim to make each password different from the last—not just simple variations. “Passw0rd1” shouldn’t become “Passw0rd2,” for example. In fact, you should refrain from using any version of “password” as your actual password.
6. Lock/Log Off Computer
To help prevent unknown or uninvited individuals from accessing your sensitive information, remember to lock or log off of your computer before stepping away from your desk. Sometimes, it takes only seconds for a determined party to acquire or compromise your information. So, whether you’re stepping away for a quick break or you’re called to an impromptu meeting, lock before you walk.
We’ve highlighted general best practices for information security, but there are many others. Always be smart whenever using or accessing your information at work, at home, and on the go. And always make sure you’re aware of your company’s specific policies and guidelines for information security.
We invite you to share this post with your colleagues, customers, friends, family members—everyone. Together, we can all help protect our business software and personal information.