Wash Your (Virtual) Hands: Tips to Impact Your Cyber Health


Health professionals follow a specific protocol to ensure the health of their patients. Something as simple as hand washing can protect from a contagious disease outbreak. Researchers in London estimate that if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented.


Similarly, cybersecurity analysts are given specific tools to ensure the safety of the internet. Before a significant security event occurs, the ability to utilize the correct tools can be the difference between preventing a breach and the total loss of personal data. Tools like firewalls, encryptions, networks, and databases can protect from cyber attacks that could result in denial-of-service. According to an article from the Internet Society, cybercrime costs businesses an estimated $600 billion USD a year.  This staggering number indicates that investing in cybersecurity could be beneficial as it would prevent millions of breaches annually. If it is that simple, why aren’t we seeing the handwashing equivalent in cybersecurity? 


Like healthcare, cybersecurity is a rapidly growing industry with new advances every day. However, in both scenarios, the main problem was not the growth but the simple things asked to do to prevent catastrophic events. Many people dismiss the idea of their devices being hacked because they assume it could never happen to them. In a recent article from the National Public Radio, it took a mere 41 minutes for a smart toaster connected to the internet to be hacked. In the study, a toaster was placed as a decoy to see how quickly hackers could breach the system. The toaster was set up on an open wifi network through an old router, using the factory setting IP Address. In less than an hour, the device was compromised.


Cybersecurity professionals are necessary for the many security situations but protection can start with you. Similar to washing your hands to prevent outbreaks, protecting your devices from cyber attacks is possible. Applying simple steps will help maintain good cyber hygiene. 


#1- Correctly set up your router: Maintaining updated software on your routers as well as activating its security protocols during setup is a major step in creating a safe environment. Set a schedule to change and update usernames and passwords and stick to the schedule.


#2- Frequently update your software: Now, while it may seem like a tedious and time-consuming task, it is crucial you give your software time to update. The device maybe first-rate but it is only as good as the software it is running. When software is updated frequently it provides patches that hackers have a hard time maneuvering. 


#3 - Do your research: Simple facts are that some device manufacturers take security more seriously than others.  Protecting your personal data starts with a reputable device. Taking 15 minutes to read reviews and researching what kind of security devices to use can save in the hassle of being hacked later. Educate yourself on what IoT device you allow in your home. 





Taking simple universal steps can make a huge difference. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Small precautionary efforts will have a lasting effect on your cybersecurity.



Citations; 



https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/fast_facts.html#two

https://www.npr.org/.../an-experiment-shows-how-quickly-the-internet-of-things-can-be…

https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2018/02/the-cost-of-cybercrime/


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