What IT security actions can I take myself?

Keeping your computer secure is necessary whether you are at work or at home. Follow this advice to stay safe and minimize your chances of getting hacked.

 

Always hover, every time

This title may sound funny, but it is important to remember to hover your mouse over the blue underlined hyperlinks you may receive in emails or that are found on web pages you are not familiar with. By hovering over these links, you will get a pop-up next to your cursor that reveals the true destination if the link is clicked. Sometimes hyperlinks will trick you into clicking them and bring you to a malicious website. Always hover, every time!

 

Create and use strong passwords

The use of strong passwords can slow or often defeat the various attack methods of compromising a computer’s security. Strong passwords ensure the security and confidentiality of data that is stored on your computer, tablet, smartphone, wireless network and online accounts.

 

Use two-factor authentication for confidential accounts

Two Factor Authentication, also known as 2FA or TFA (as an acronym), is an extra layer of security that is known as "multi factor authentication" that requires not only a password and username but also something that only that user has on them, such as a piece of information only they should know or have immediately to hand -like a physical token or a smartphone app with a temporary code or key.

 

Backup your data regularly

Back up your data! Having duplicate copies of your most important information saved on a secondary hard drive or cloud/remote location keeps it safe in case anything goes wrong with your computer. A lot can go wrong, including computer crashes, viruses, malware, ransomware, equipment failures, water damage, drop damage, and theft. If it's important to you, back it up!

 

Use Antivirus Software

Making sure your PC or Mac is protected is just as important these days as it has always been. Malicious users are still coming up with ways to access your machine, be it hijackers grabbing your search page, or the latest ransomware encrypting all of your files, so having a robust antivirus software package for your PC or Mac is essential to help keep you safe.

 

Update your computer regularly

Operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh OSX, and Linux, and web browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox and Edge all need to be updated and patched on a regular basis.


Encrypt your hard disk

Hard-drive encryption is a technology that encrypts the data stored on a hard drive using sophisticated mathematical functions. Data on an encrypted hard drive cannot be read by anyone who does not have access to the appropriate key or password. Encrypting your hard drive is an important consideration when buying or setting up a computer.

 

Use Virtual Private Networks when working remotely

A virtual private network extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. A VPN is therefore a secure and private solution within the wider internet itself that allows users –whether they are individuals, or part of an organization, or business—to send and receive data while maintaining the secrecy of a private network.