Nowadays, everything is starting to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). Whether it’s your phone, your thermostat or even your fridge, your entire home seems to be seamlessly connected. While this is beneficial to many as control and adjustability is easier than ever before, it does allow yourself to become vulnerable to be a target by hackers.

Why You Should be Concerned

Cybersecurity is extremely important for everyone, not only businesses. In the past, the main risk of technology and the internet was that you could download a virus onto your computer. But as technology and the Internet of Things have been integrated more into our everyday lives, the risk has increased dramatically to personal information being taken and others gaining control of our devices.  So now, more than ever before, we must always focus on our cybersecurity, even in our homes.

Your Passwords

Practicing good password management is the first step to take when protecting yourself online. The main theory behind this is that if you practice good password management, your accounts will be less likely to be hacked because it’s more difficult to gain access. To start improving your passwords, there are a few tips to use to help ensure that your accounts will stay secure online.

Work hard to make your passwords strong. This focuses on creating lengthy passwords with a mix of characters (letters and punctuation) that will make it more difficult for others to guess. It’s also recommended to use sentences rather than a single word because it’s more difficult for hackers to guess a lengthy phrase.

Don’t use the same password across multiple accounts. When you have the same password for many accounts, you run the risk of a hacker guessing one password and using that password to gain access to all of your accounts. Using different passwords for different accounts or sites gives yourself the confidence that if one account is hacked, the hack will only be limited to that single account.

Be mindful of how often you change your password. Changing your password is important because it ensures that you’re the only person accessing that account. Updating your password gives you the opportunity to regain any authority over the account because often, accounts will require users to sign-in again if the password is changed. This is essential as it can take days, weeks or even months to notice you’ve been a victim of a hack.

Be Aware of What You’re Doing

While on the internet, it’s important that you’re paying attention to what you’re doing. Many hackers or scammers online try to use phishing scams to trick people into providing them with personal information or money. Often these scams involve a user being told a lie to have them do what the scammers want.

Being cautious online goes further than being careful about what information or access you’re providing. While using your computer you should also be cautious about what you’re clicking on and the sites you’re visiting. Visiting sites that are not secure or clicking on untrusted links poses the risk of unknowingly and automatically downloading malware files onto your computer. Malware software is a type of software that allows for others to infect your computer with viruses, records your activity or even remotely access your device. Regardless of what it’s being used for, it poses a real privacy risk for any user as over 50% of Canadians perform banking and file taxes online through their devices.

Protect Your Sensitive Data

The best way to protect your sensitive data is not to have it on your computer. The less information that is on your device, the less likely you’ll have any concerns if you’re hacked. Ideally, it’s suggested not to store important information such as bank accounts, passwords or credit card numbers as files because if you are hacked, that information can be taken and used elsewhere.

As well to protect your sensitive data, it’s essential that you’re using your IoT devices safely. This means using secure networks when you’re in public spaces, not leaving your computer unlocked or unattended, and not using the auto-fill or automatic sign-in feature. Doing all of this can help prevent unauthorized access to your personal information or accounts from your device.

Enable Encryption

When improving your cybersecurity, it’s important that you make yourself harder to hack and less desirable to target. One last way to further protect yourself that is not known by many is to encrypt your devices. Encrypting your devices makes it harder to access your data as others will need a code or password to do so. Essentially, if they don’t have the password or can’t guess it, your device will stay secure and will not be accessed without your authorization.

Good cybersecurity begins with yourself. Specifically with being proactive and making smart choices online. While it’s not guaranteed that you won’t face any cybersecurity issues at home if you follow these tips, they’re always useful to help protect yourself from having to cancel or reopen accounts due to suspicious activity. So to start off the new year right, do your best to educate your family about cybersecurity and stay safe online.