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Cyber Hygiene Best Practices – What is it & its Tips

Written by Anuraag Singh ~ Modified: 13-07-2023 ~ Cyber Awareness ~ 7 Minutes Reading

Since our childhood, we have probably been maintaining good physical hygiene, but have you ever heard of cyber hygiene best practices? Its habits preserve the health and well-being of your sensitive data and connected devices, just like personal hygiene activities do for your health and well-being. In this article, we will define cyber hygiene, its significance, and the best safeguards for individuals and organizations. 

What is Cyber Hygiene? 

Cyber hygiene describes the steps that users of computers and other devices may take to increase their online security and preserve system health. Moreover, it means developing security-focused behaviours and mindsets that assist people and organizations in reducing the risk of online security breaches. This cyber hygiene is becoming ingrained in day-to-day life.

Why it is Important?

Cyber hygiene benefits people, both personally and professionally. For instance, excellent cyber hygiene can stop the catastrophic Equifax data hack, saving the organization millions of dollars and its good name. In a public health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, it may also provide distant workers with more assurance. Cyber hygiene helps by lessening the chance that hackers may use security flaws. So let’s understand the following points. 

  1. Firstly, a company should safeguard its data and customer information.
  2. Secondly, Keep computers and gadgets functioning properly.
  3. Secure against viruses and ransomware.
  4. Avoid harmful behavior such as phishing efforts.
  5. Identifying and fixing lapsed admin rights from previous employees, etc.
  6. Track down unmanaged access.
  7. Lastly, identify any unlicensed software on a machine.

Cyber Hygiene Best Practices for the Individuals

Each component of the digital jigsaw has several dangers and weaknesses, setting up a practice for cyber hygiene is simpler than it would first appear. Here are some best practices that implemented regularly can dramatically improve the security of any system. 

1. Backups: Regularly back up critical data to a secure place that would stay safe and isolated if the main network is breached.

2. Encryption: Always try to use data encryption to protect your confidential data from cyber criminals. 

3. Login Protection: For all accounts and devices throughout your business, use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to make sure that only authorized users can access your sensitive data. 

4. If You Contact, You Must Protect: The easiest way to prevent malware and virus assaults on your computer, smartphone, or other networked device is to regularly run software updates to make sure your operating system, browser, and applications are all up to date.

An essential layer of security is a plan that incorporates the automated security update.

5. Don’t Get Hooked: Phishing techniques are used by cybercriminals to deceive their victims. So, if an email appears fishy and you’re not sure who sent it, don’t react to it. Even don’t click on any links or attachments.

Report the phishing attempt instead to assist your IT staff and email provider in blocking more dubious phoney emails before they reach your inbox. Furthermore, using random phishing simulations is a useful exercise to teach end users how to recognize phishing efforts.

6. Stay Alert While Connecting: The ideal method for securing networks is to use Virtual Private Network (VPN) for employees connecting from a distance. A VPN establishes a secure connection and encrypts data to conceal it as it travels. It is more difficult for attackers to view and access data thanks to this connection.

When utilizing public Wi-Fi networks to access sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (such as social security numbers) or protected health information, VPNs are necessary. VPNs are essential in the hybrid workplace of today to guard against shady behavior.

7. Education: Learn how to stop typical malware assaults and how to avoid being a victim of phishing schemes. Users should generally refrain from clicking on email attachments and links, for instance. Keep abreast with new phishing and malware techniques.

8. Use Firewalls: Make sure that you have firewalls and routers are properly set up and configured to keep cybercriminals out of private systems. 

9. Unique and Strong Password: Always protect your account with strong passwords. It should be 12-15 characters long with lower (a-z), upper (A-Z), digits (1-9) and Symbols. 

10. Online Discretion: Avoid posting any personal information that a malicious person may use to guess, reset, or otherwise access private accounts. Know what private data is already out there online that thieves might exploit for deceptive social engineering schemes.

11. Security Software: To protect computers from harmful software, such as viruses, ransomware, spyware, worms, rootkits, and Trojans, install security software, such as antivirus and antimalware. Moreover,  ensure the program is configured correctly and perform routine scans to detect strange behavior.

Cyber Hygiene Best Practices for Organizations

Cyber hygiene is a technique to organize your cybersecurity approach. Let’s understand the best practices that businesses of all sizes should adhere to.

1. Implement a Strong Automated Backup System: Firstly, IT managers need to adopt a cyber-hygiene mindset to make sure that, in the event of an incident, the business won’t lose work or crucial data. Moreover, a manual backup practice is no longer sufficient for a safe organization given the growing significance of IT, the hazards associated with data, and the volatility of the market. Consider automated options, such as reliable cloud services. With less work on your plate, the team may still have more time. 

2. Practice Risk Management: What happens if a thief breaks into the business and steals private information? In this scenario, how would IT respond? What confinement strategies are there? How soon should they be used? 

When the IT team plans for scenarios including break-ins and outages and formulates responses, it is practicing excellent risk management. There are risks, and you should be well-versed in them. 

3. Control Access: The main obstacle to data protection is access control, therefore make significant investments here. Search for products and services that automate authentication, and monitoring the danger. And warn you of any irregularities that could occur when someone tries to get into the system. 

4. Continuously Manage Vulnerability: Given the capability of the resources that will handle these vulnerabilities and the internal procedures for carrying out the necessary treatment, we must conduct scans to detect vulnerabilities regularly in the minimum amount of time. The surface that is exposed to services and applications will be reduced as much as feasible through this approach. 

However, in a developed environment, we must combine the automatic vulnerability management process with a more in-depth manual analysis process that focuses primarily on essential systems and is carried out by a group of penetration testing experts. 

5. Secure Hardware and Software: Most information technology solutions, whether they be software or hardware, come preconfigured with an initial setup that prioritizes ease of use and practicality throughout the deployment. In this regard, it’s typical for these systems to have modules and an excessive amount of services enabled, as well as authentication and communication protocols with low or nonexistent security standards. 

This procedure, known as “hardening,” involves turning off any enabled resources that are not necessary for the service’s operation and enhancing the authentication and encryption processes’ security without sacrificing functionality or performance. 

Closing Words

In this article, we discussed so many things such as cyber hygiene meaning, its benefits, and best practices. I hope it was an informative article for you. From now onwards always do follow all the cyber hygiene best practices mentioned above.