As part of our ongoing “Your defense in the digital world campaign”, this story, along with its companion stories, “How cyber criminals will try to defraud you”, and “Should I be afraid of A.I.?” help you navigate your way through your cyber security needs.
We live in an online world. Our smartphones, tablets, and even smart lightbulbs are networked. It all brings such great convenience, but certain exposures and threats as well. Our financial transactions happen across the cloud. Our identities and personal information exist in digital spaces. Our memories, friends, and family are accessible on social media. There’s just so much of us out there, and we need to guard it all against bad actors.
What is Cyber Security?
In short, Forbes defines Cyber security as the “the protection of information and data on computers, networks and electronic devices. Within the cybersecurity field, professionals anticipate, prevent and respond to attacks.” Much of our information and data is invisible to us. However, it’s important that we remain aware of our digital footprints, and how we can protect them.
Why does Cyber Security matter?
The risk is great. From identity fraud, disinformation campaigns, financial crime, cyberbullying and more, our online lives can be under threat from a number of malicious characters. In fact, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (Cyber Centre) has released its National Cyber Threat Assessment 2023-2024, “alerting that state sponsored and financially motivated cyber threats are increasingly likely to affect Canadians, and that foreign threat actors are attempting to influence Canadians through use of misinformation, disinformation and malinformation in online spaces.” It’s a persistent problem that will only evolve as criminals become more aggressive and sophisticated.
Tips for protecting your cyber identity and information
By adopting protective behaviours in your digital activities, you can create a better barrier between you and the risks:
- Use a password manager: A password manager is an app that safely stores all of your passwords and online credentials. This can allow you to create more, difficult-to-hack passwords, that you don’t have to remember.
- Use multi-factor authentication: This provides an extra layer of protection, so when you do something like log into your bank account, you’ll be prompted to enter a security code that is sent to your email or a text message on your phone.
- Don’t save payment information: Saving your credit or debit card information to a merchant’s site or an app leaves you vulnerable to hackers.
- Update your systems: This can protect your data, software, and devices by updating security, patching potential flaws, and helping to protect against viruses.
- Install anti-virus software: When you have this protection, the software scans files and programs for virus and deletes then when discovered.
- Watch for phishing scams: Fraudsters will always try to imitate a trusted source in order to attain your private information like bank passwords, social security number, etc.
- Be careful with links: Always ensure that you only click links that you trust because cyber criminals will use links to infect your computer with malware.
- Back up your data: Having your data backed up leaves you less vulnerable to ransomware (when cyber criminals lock you out of your data)
- Avoid using public networks: Using public networks leaves you vulnerable to hacking techniques like intercepting your connection to even fooling you into connecting to a fraudulent wifi.
- Protect your personal identifiable information: Online and offline, you’ll want to ensure that all personal information is kept out of the hands of criminals who can use that information to steal your identity.