about how to navigate the digital world to make it more secure and less toxic. IT professionals, those diligent people responsible for the secure and reliable operation of our computer systems, share some valuable tip to help protect us from the endless and growing risk of security breaches. Consider these eight golden rules that IT pros recommend everyone follow for an online life even your mom will be proud of.
Tip #1: Count to 10 before you press Send.
One, two, three…. Take a deep breath and remember: It’s never a good idea to send an email when you are in bad mood. Learn this from the most patient people in IT.
Tip #2: Don’t overshare your personal information.
Similarly, IT pros recommend thinking twice before sharing personal data. When an online store asks for personal information in exchange for a discount, ask yourself: Is it really worth the risk? The likelihood of becoming the victim of a social engineering attack is directly proportional to the amount of the information you share on social media. Don’t put anything online that can be used against you in the future.
Tip #3: Don’t fall for phishing attacks and other scams.
There are no special gifts to be had from suspicious emails. No easy money. No princes who will reward you for a little financial help. “If it seems too good to be true, it is a scam,” as one wise IT pro respondent put it. Another clear sign of phishing is unexpected urgency: If a message tries to make you do something out of ordinary and includes time pressure, you should slow down and look at it critically. Tip #1 fully applies here — count to 10 before deciding how to respond.
Tip #4: Use multi-factor authentication and follow password hygiene best practices.
Many IT pros in the survey recommend that users enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA requires you to prove your identity by providing at least two pieces of evidence (such as your password + a code from an authenticator app). It dramatically increases the security of your accounts and you don’t need any specific IT knowledge to use it. Another common piece advice was never to use the same password for several services — especially critical ones, like your company network or your bank.
Tip #5: Keep your antivirus up to date and use VPN when working on your corporate network.
Almost everyone is clear about the need for antivirus, but many users are still surprised by the need to use a virtual private network. A VPN turns your traffic into an encrypted tunnel so nobody can monitor or use it. It also masks your IP address and location. IT pros are convinced it is a great tool to strengthen security and data privacy.
Tip #6: Be mindful of what you’re posting.
Don’t do anything on the internet you wouldn’t want your grandparents to know about. Your tweets, photos and posts can be captured by others and live on, even if you delete them from their original location. In other words, don’t take luggage that you are not ready to carry.
Tip #7: Keep your systems, software and apps updated.
When your operating system says it’s time to install an update, do so within 48 hours. Take this as an unbreakable rule: Some studies report that one in three breaches involve unpatched systems. Control what you can by updating your systems. It’s a vital first line of defense.
Tip #8: Protect your work-life balance.
Finally, even though many IT pros work longer hours than many of us, they still highly recommend not spending too much time online. Remote work doesn’t automatically mean work flexibility; rather, schedules are frequently more packed, and stop and start times are fuzzier. If you work from home, it is very important to ensure that your work schedule does not interfere with personal time.
These rules may seem simple, and they are! But following them faithfully will help lead to the internet mindfulness that we all have to develop to make our life online more secure. Plus, following these rules supports your hard-working IT professionals and lessens the need for those annoying “fire drills.”
Review this list, share it freely with your friends and relatives, and live a mindful life, both online and off. And as one IT pro reasonably remarked: “Let’s spread love and memes!” Who are we to resist?
Written by Ilia Sotnikov.
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