First and foremost, it’s astonishing how fast the use of the computer technology has evolved to date. We are now dealing with more than ‘a computer in every home’ as the average person especially in the developed world owns several gadgets – desktop computer, laptops, tablets, smartphones ( as well as cameras, game consoles etc.)
Today I am not here to boast of the historical appealing nature of the digital era we are living. My tone today will bend towards educating on the need and how you should tread in the cyberspace. To date, the cyberspace is so vigorous and a lot is happening on the networks that interlink this gadget. Nobody is to be trusted. As you enjoy the best of the internet be cautious and take responsibility for your actions as you carry along.
POINT BLANK: Please remember that 100% security is not achievable and you must be prepared to respond accordingly, act fast and quick when things go astray.
Preparedness in the cyberspace is meaningless if you have no clue in any of the following:
Malware designers have gone pro and are able to design, share and sell cyber-tools primarily to attack those who are unprepared. In trying to understand and stay on the know-how below are the key highlights to avert malicious attempts.
- Perform systemic backups of your files.
- Be aware of attachments you don’t expect
- Perform regular scans to your memory sticks/devices.
- Maintain an up to date system software; antivirus software should be up to date
- Use a security conscious ISP; FREE WIFI MAY NOT BE SECURE.
- Never trust any file you are about to download, exercise caution.
- Be suspicious of random pop-up windows and error messages.
*If in doubt, do not do it. Behave online as you would in real life.
The following gives a glimpse of what should be avoided once you “step” inside the cyberspace.
- Unprotected interaction with cyberspace(no antivirus, no firewall)
- Misusing your employer’s systems and facilities
- E-mailing your employer’s sensitive material to your personal email account
- Making online comments that could be considered offensive
- Planting malware or inappropriate material in someone else’s device
- Downloading and storing in your devices material best described as ‘inappropriate’.
…..YOU GET THE IDEA….
3.Antivirus and Firewall
A device unprotected from either a firewall or antivirus can be quickly and easily compromised.
Uphold the following:
- Select and install and firewall tool
- Ensure the selected tool is regularly, ideally, automatically updated.
- Regularly scan your device for possible malware and deal with it accordingly.
4. Disposing of your devices
The day will come when your device will be considered outdated. Before disposing it, it’s prudent to remove all the data it contains – sensitive or not. Failure to do so allows someone else to misuse your data. If your device has failed beyond that it can’t be repaired, physical destruction is advisable.
BEWARE: Using the Delete key doesn’t guarantee you the complete destruction of data – it just makes available storage space for other data to overwrite it. This allows someone with little knowledge and some tools to retrieve what you just “deleted”.
A better way to dispose of the data is to use software designed for this purpose. Several antivirus products include such features.
Creating copies of your crucial data is an essential aspect in the cyberspace.
A backup is simply a copy of data kept separately from the device in which it’s stored. Ideally, a backup should be secure and accessible. After all an electronic device is susceptible to failure, damage or can even be stolen.
Passwords are something you know and have been used to authenticate a person’s identity since time immemorial. You have many keys; you should have many passwords for the same reason.
Good practice requires that the passwords to your computer, vault and all online accounts should be different and hard to guess. The real problem with having many different passwords is that they are hard to remember and therefore, have to be written down. This greatly weakens their usefulness as someone else can get a copy of the written material. One way to reduce the risk is to store the passwords in a vault.
WARNING: An inability to keep good records of passwords could cause you considerable trouble should you lose them. A vault and good backup practices are good things to put into consideration.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as unbreakable passwords given enough time and computing power available. Two-factor authentication is the way to go. Other arrangements involve sending a validation code to your mobile telephone.
Uploading, downloading and sharing copyrighted material (video, audio, electronic books, etc.) are widely practiced as well as illegal. Ask yourself if the savings achieved by not paying for a license are really worth the potential complications if caught.
Every download introduces into your device unknown elements, some of which may not be detectable and if found may be hard to remove.
Many downloads require you to provide personal information, usually an email address and sometimes more to be registered.
Good hygiene requires that; the source of the download is known and trustworthy.
You should ask yourself why the item is being offered as a download – as a gift, as a well-intentioned offer to share, as a means to gain revenue, as a means to collect your personal information, etc. If you don’t know much about the source, look them up using your search engine. After all, you tell your children not to accept gifts or car rides from strangers.
7. Personal Identification Numbers (PIN)
In this way as passwords, a short sequence of numbers four to six are incorporated for authentication.
Similar to passwords when an individual has acquired a lot of them the challenge of remembering arises and this can prove an inconvenience.
However, I have a guide on how you can counter this and still beat the cons who might want to steal your PIN.
- Write the PIN with indelible ink on the card itself but not as numbers. Find one or more easy to remember words (in any language) that up to 10 characters and in which no letter is repeated. For example TECH MAJORS or BROW FLUID (there are thousands of such combination)
- Select any letter (for example the R in MAJORS) and make it correspond to number 1. Thus
Now you can convert any sequence of numbers to letters you can write on your card (just don’t tell anyone what the words are! A PIN of 2017 thus becomes SORM.
8. Choosing Software for Your Devices
In as much software enhance your devices’ workability and perform what you, the owner considers useful, so just don’t install any software. All software should be assumed to contain errors, many of which are not known to the designers or vendors. Some may contain malware by design and the designers have no liability (User License Agreement makes this clear). Such malware may allow others to steal data from your computer.
The only assertion is to install software that has the form of Quality Assurance and this implies a reputable vendor. Reputable vendors provide support for their products in the form of updates and support (online, by email or phone).
9. Sharing your devices
To what extent should you share your computer, tablet or smartphone, your passwords and PIN numbers, etc. and under what conditions?
In the workplace, sharing your devices with unknown individuals is simply asking for trouble unless this is permitted by design and individuals have individual accounts. Learn to have limits.
The easier way, when the need is, is to create multiple user accounts. This feature is available for most devices. Each account should define what the individual is allowed to do. You should, for example, prevent others from installing software or making changes on your behalf.
10. Locking your devices when not in use
It’s important to lock your doors and windows when you leave a place unattended to prevent intruders who could steal and/or damage your property. This should similarly apply to you devices except that your ‘property’ consists of intangible asset; your personal details and access to online services, including banking).
Locking your devices has several dimensions from simple use of a password-protected screen saver activated once the device has not been in use for a given time.
When using your devices in public places you should turn off features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and other such features as they may allow others to capture information from your device.
11. Securing online transactions ‘https’
Electronic commerce, online banking, and many other activities involve giving third-party confidential information, such as the details of a credit card. It is of importance that you, being the owner of this information that you are able to trust the third party as well as the process of doing so.
Remember, this information can also be intercepted by malicious agents and can be used to defraud you.
Therefore, like we discussed in downloads, trust between the parties is essential but not enough. Exchange of sensitive information should only take place if you are satisfied that they use the https (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). You can look this up in an online encyclopedia or with a search engine – the technical details are irrelevant to this discussion. The use of https is essential over encrypted networks such as Wi-Fi to prevent others sharing this network to be able to discover your confidential information or inject malware into your device.
What is too much for humans is digestible for computers which can, therefore, monitor all or parts of traffic and be programmed to produce appropriate reports. Recognize that it’s totally hard to be anonymous in cyberspace.