New Year’s Resolutions for Cybersecurity
As December draws to a close and you start to set your goals for next year, consider adding in some New Year’s resolutions focused on improving your cybersecurity. Here are some suggestions from a few of us at Mission Multiplier:
“Make sure your home systems are secure.”
Routinely check to make sure everything is operating as it should. Check any video feeds you may have on a weekly basis, double check to ensure you’ll be notified in case of an intrusion, and make sure your home Wi-Fi is set up as a secure network. If you don’t know how to check whether or not your Wi-Fi is secure, click on your connection settings and look at the network you’re connected to. If the network is secure, you should see a lock on the Wi-Fi symbol, the word “Secure” under the network name, or a combination of the two. Many smart home security systems do have high quality data encryption, so that is not usually something to stress about. Just keep in mind that any crack in the integrity of your cyber armor can become an invitation for invasion.
“Use spaces to increase your password/passphrase security.”
The rules for passwords are changing, and many of the old rules are now considered obsolete. As an example, let’s start with the basic password “Eye4n!”, a play on the phrase “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” It’s memorable and meets the minimum password strength requirements for most websites: at least six characters, an upper-case letter, a lower-case letter, a number, and a special character. To the average internet user, this would look like a great password. To a hacker, cracking it is child’s play. According to the Kaspersky Lab Secure Password Check, it would take an average home computer with no hacker-specific improvements about 3 hours to crack this “great” password through brute force.
There are plenty of ways to make this password stronger, but there is one in particular that would drastically improve your security: turn it into a passphrase. By transitioning from a short password to a more complex passphrase, two things occur. First, the number of characters drastically increases, which factorially increases the amount of possible combinations a brute force attack has to attempt to successfully guess the correct answer. Second, the addition of spaces adds an element that hackers rarely check for. Using this model, the old password “Eye4n!” becomes the new passphrase “An eye 4 an I = blind!”, which would take a computer with the same setup as before over 10,000 centuries to brute force. And that’s in the rare case that they are actually checking for spaces!
“Get good at spotting phishing and other cyberthreats.”
There will never be anything wrong with educating yourself about what’s out there. Your best defense against cyberthreats is your knowledge of them, because whatever gets past your firewalls and spam filters will be up to you to stop. A simple way to do this is to try to learn about a new cyberthreat every day. Just hop online and use your favorite search engine to look up “current cyberthreats”, pick one out, and research it. The best way to get your feet wet is by familiarizing yourself with the most common techniques used in phishing scams, and the best place to begin your journey is here!
“Make social media profiles private.”
You don’t want everybody to see you. Really. If you’re like most people, your social media feeds are full of information about you and your family. Just by looking at your social media profiles, adversaries can usually get a very good idea of your routine, the people you care about most, how many children you have, what hobbies or sports your children participate in, what schools they go to, and more. By making your profile publicly available, you give hackers everything they need to use social engineering to weasel what they want out of you and people around you. Adjust the settings on all of your social media accounts so that your personal information is only available to the people you want seeing it. These settings can sometimes change when a platform implements an update, so check back regularly to make sure they are still how you want them.
“Don’t post that you are away from home on social media.”
Wait to post the family fun shots until you are back from your trip. The bad guys like scouring social media for easy pickings, especially during the holidays. If they see that no one is at home, then you could be an easy target to be cleaned out before you return.
“Use multifactor authentication in everyday life.”
Multifactor authentication is a great defense if someone does possess your password. Say a hacker cracks the password to your Gmail account. When they attempt to log on, the first thing they see will be Google requesting that you authenticate your login through your phone. Unless they have access to your phone, they’re stopped dead in their tracks. Most hackers will move on to easier targets, leaving you safe and sound.
If you, your organization or company, or someone you know would like more information about our company or on how to protect yourself in the new year, please do not hesitate to reach out to Mission Multiplier at firstname.lastname@example.org.