In today's digital age, we rely heavily on technology to manage our daily lives, from personal communication to online banking. With this increased reliance comes an increased risk of cyber attacks, which can compromise our personal information and cause significant harm. Therefore, it is essential to prepare for a cyber attack at home. In this article, we'll discuss ten steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.
Step 1: Secure Your Home Network
Your home network is the gateway to your devices and personal information, so it is essential to secure it. Here is a quick checklist for securing your home network which is critical infrastructure to eliminating cyber risks!
Change Your Wi-Fi Password: The first step in securing your home network is to change the default Wi-Fi password that came with your router. A strong password should be at least 12 characters long and include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Create strong passwords for your router, and avoid using easy-to-guess passwords, such as "password" or "123456."
Update Your Router Firmware: Router manufacturers often release firmware updates to address security vulnerabilities. Check your router manufacturer's website for any available updates, and install them as soon as possible.
Enable Network Encryption: Most routers come with encryption enabled by default. However, you should double-check to make sure that your network is using WPA2 encryption, which is currently the most secure encryption available.
Enable Firewall: A firewall is a security feature that helps to protect your network by blocking unauthorized access. It works by analyzing incoming and outgoing network traffic and blocking any traffic that doesn't meet certain security criteria. Most routers come with a built-in firewall that can be enabled in the router settings. Once you've logged into your router's admin panel, look for the firewall settings and enable them. This will add an additional layer of security to your home network.
Disable Remote Management: Remote management allows you to access your router's settings from outside your home network. However, it also creates a potential security vulnerability. Disable remote management to reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
Enable MAC Address Filtering: MAC address filtering restricts access to your network based on the MAC address of each device. This prevents unauthorized devices from connecting to your network.
Change Your Network Name: Change your network name, also known as SSID, to something unique and not related to you. This will make it harder for attackers to identify your network.
Turn off Wi-Fi When Not in Use: When you're not using your Wi-Fi network, turn it off. This will prevent unauthorized access to your network and reduce your exposure to potential attacks.
By following these steps, you can significantly improve the security of your home network and reduce the risk of cyber attacks. Additionally, you may want to consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet traffic and protect your online privacy.
Optional: Consider Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Research VPN Providers: There are many VPN providers available, each with its own features, prices, and performance. Do your research and choose a reputable VPN provider that meets your needs.
Install and Configure the VPN Software: Once you've chosen a VPN provider, download and install their VPN software on your devices. Configure the VPN software according to the provider's instructions.
Connect to the VPN: Once you've installed and configured the VPN software, connect to the VPN whenever you're using the internet. This will encrypt your internet traffic and protect your online activity from prying eyes.
By using a VPN, you can significantly enhance your cyber security and privacy, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks. However, it's essential to choose a reputable VPN provider and to configure the software correctly to avoid any potential security risks.
Step 2: Protect Your Personal Devices
Protect your devices, such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets, with strong passwords and enable multi-factor authentication. Always keep your devices up-to-date with the latest security updates, which include patches for known vulnerabilities.
Protecting your personal devices is essential in keeping your personally identifiable information secure. Here are some tips to help you keep your devices safe:
Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) : This adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring an additional verification step beyond your password. This could be a code sent to your phone, an email, or a biometric scan, or a security question. Enabling 2FA can help prevent unauthorized access to your accounts, even if someone manages to obtain your password.
Keep Your Devices Up-to-Date: Always make sure to install the latest software updates for your devices, as they often contain critical security patches. Regularly updating your devices can help protect them from known vulnerabilities and reduce the risk of being hacked.
Be Careful When Downloading and Installing Apps: Only download apps from trusted sources, such as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Before downloading an app, read reviews and check the developer's website to ensure it is legitimate. Be wary of apps that request excessive permissions or ask for access to sensitive data, such as your contacts or location.
Use Incognito Mode on Your Mobile or Web Browser: Using incognito mode on your mobile browser can help protect your online activity from being tracked. When you use incognito mode, your browsing history and cookies are not saved, and your activity is not tracked by third-party advertisers.
Disable Bluetooth When Not in Use: Leaving Bluetooth enabled on your device when you're not actively using it can make your device vulnerable to attacks. Turn off Bluetooth when you're not using it to reduce your risk of being hacked.
Turn off Airdrop: If you're an iPhone user, it's important to turn off Airdrop when you're not using it. Airdrop allows you to share files with other Apple devices, but it can also make your device vulnerable to attacks from nearby hackers.
Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Phishing is a common tactic used by cybercriminals to trick people into giving away their sensitive information. Be cautious when opening emails or messages from unknown senders, and never click on links or download attachments from suspicious sources.
Step 3: Use Safe Internet Practices
Practice safe internet habits to minimize your risk of cyber attacks. Avoid clicking on suspicious links or opening emails from unknown senders. Use secure websites (HTTPS) when browsing and be cautious of public Wi-Fi networks, which can be unsecured and vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Step 4: Back Up Your Data
Backup your data regularly to prevent data loss in case of a cyber attack. Use cloud storage services or external hard drives to store your data. Use reliable backup solutions to ensure your data is secure and accessible.
Follow these steps to back up your data safely:
Identify important files: Make a list of important files that you want to back up. This could include documents, photos, videos, and other personal data.
Choose a backup method: You can use cloud storage services such as Google Drive, iCloud, or Dropbox to backup your data. Another option is to use an external hard drive to store your files. Choose a backup method that works best for you.
Set up automatic backups: Most cloud storage services and external hard drives offer automatic backup options. This means that your files will be backed up on a regular basis without any manual intervention. Set up automatic backups to ensure that your data is always up-to-date and secure.
Test your backups: Regularly test your backups to ensure that your data is being backed up correctly. Restore a file or two to make sure that the backup is working as expected.
Keep multiple copies: Make sure to keep multiple copies of your data backup. This means having backups stored in different locations or using multiple backup methods. This will ensure that your data is safe even if one backup fails.
Use encryption: If you're backing up sensitive data, use encryption to protect it from unauthorized access. Many cloud storage services and external hard drives offer encryption options.
Step 5: Develop a Response Plan
Create a response plan for your family in case of a cyber attack. Identify key contacts, such as law enforcement and IT support, and have a plan for reporting the attack. Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do in case of a cyber attack. Make sure you conduct the following when creating your cyber security plan and overall emergency preparedness:
Identify key contacts: Make a list of key contacts, such as local law enforcement, IT support, and your internet service provider. Include their phone numbers and email addresses in your response plan.
Develop a communication plan: Decide how you will communicate with each other in case of a cyber attack. Consider using a messaging app or social media platform that is secure and encrypted.
Educate your family: Make sure everyone in your family is aware of the risks of cyber attacks and knows how to identify suspicious emails, links, and messages.
Backup your data: Regularly backup your important data and files to prevent data loss or possible identity theft in case of a cyber attack. Use cloud storage services or external hard drives to store your data.
Have an incident response plan: Develop an incident response plan that outlines the steps to take in case of a cyber attack. This plan should include steps to isolate the infected device, report the attack, and recover from the attack.
Test your response plan: Once you have developed your response plan, test it with your family to make sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.
Step 6: Educate Yourself and Your Family
Stay informed about cyber threats and educate yourself and your family about safe internet practices. Attend online tutorials and workshops and read cybersecurity news to stay up-to-date with current cyber threats.
Here are some helpful resources for staying informed about cyber threats and safe internet practices:
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): CISA is a government agency that provides information on cybersecurity threats and best practices. They offer a variety of resources, including fact sheets, webinars, and training courses. https://www.cisa.gov/cybersecurity
National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA): NCSA is a non-profit organization that provides resources and tools to help individuals and businesses stay safe online. They offer a variety of resources, including tip sheets, infographics, and online safety quizzes. https://staysafeonline.org/
Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC provides information on consumer protection and cybersecurity, including tips on how to protect your personal information and avoid scams. They offer a variety of resources, including articles, videos, and webinars.
Common Sense Media: Common Sense Media provides reviews and recommendations for movies, TV shows, apps, games, and websites, as well as resources for parents and educators on digital citizenship and internet safety.
Step 7: Monitor Your Accounts
Monitor your personal accounts for suspicious activity, such as unusual logins or transactions. Check your credit report, bank accounts, email, and social media accounts in the event of possible cyber criminals utilizing them. Enable alerts and review your account activity regularly to detect any unauthorized activity.
Step 8: Be Wary of Scams
Be aware of different types of scams, such as phishing, vishing, and smishing. Phishing scams occur through email, vishing scams through voice calls, and smishing scams through text messages. Always be cautious and double-check the sender's identity and the legitimacy of the message.
Step 9: Update Your Software
Regularly update your software and applications to ensure they are up-to-date and secure. Enable automatic updates to receive the latest security patches automatically, and check for updates manually if necessary.
Step 10: Stay Informed
Stay informed about current cyber threats and attacks. Follow news outlets, government agencies, and cybersecurity experts on social media to receive updates and tips on how to stay safe.
Here are some twitter accounts you can follow today!
- @threatpost: Threatpost is an independent news site that covers cybersecurity news and analysis
- @DarkReading: Dark Reading is a cybersecurity news and information site
- @CISACyber: the official handle for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which provides cybersecurity news, alerts, and tips to help protect against cyber threats.
Protecting yourself and your family from a cyber attack requires preparation and proactive measures. By following these ten steps, you can minimize your risk and take control of your personal information. Remember to stay informed, educate yourself and your family, and be vigilant in your online activities. You can safeguard your digital life and enjoy the benefits of technology without compromising your security.
What should I do if I think I've been a victim of a cyber attack?
If you think you've been a victim of a cyber attack, the first thing you should do is disconnect from the internet and turn off your devices. Contact your bank and credit card companies to report any unauthorized transactions, and change your passwords immediately. Report the incident to the appropriate authorities, such as the local police or the Federal Trade Commission.
How often should I backup my data?
It is recommended to back up your data regularly, at least once a week. However, the frequency of backups depends on how often you use your devices and how critical your data is.
How can I tell if a website is secure?
Look for the "https" in the URL, which indicates that the website uses a secure connection. You can also look for a padlock icon in the browser's address bar, which indicates that the website is encrypted and secure.
What should I do if I receive a suspicious message or email?
If you receive a suspicious message or email, do not click on any links or download any attachments. Delete the message immediately, and report it to the appropriate authorities if necessary.