For a lot of people, the topic of online security is something that is usually glazed over. 

Only a select few will show interest in it, and only a handful will actually be excited to discuss it.  However, it is an important, a very important, conversation that must be had.  The amount of data, personal information and financial records being stored in or transferred through the internet has been growing exponentially since mainstream culture first logged online.  Unscrupulous fellows have seen this as an opportunity to exploit these users, to steal and ransom their data.

These digital sharks patrol the deep waters of the internet, constantly testing security measures and striking when users least expect. The truly scary thing is that you wouldn’t be able to pick these cybercriminals out of a lineup even if you tried.  The fact is that they look similar to you or I, expect that they possess an incredible amount of tech savvy, a firm understanding of human behavior and a surprising amount of patience.  By using the average persons trust in technology, their lazy tendencies and general lack of understanding in security, hackers are able to initiate their cyberattacks, often with very little resistance.

The efficiency and effectiveness of these attacks should not deter users, even those who are the least tech savvy, from implementing some sort of defense, or boost it in some way.  What may come as a surprise to the majority of the population is how little actual work is needed on their part to create a layered security system that when enacted together can pose a serious problem to a lot of cybercriminals.

Passwords.

By this point, almost everyone is familiar with them, so why are most of them so incredibly weak?

Why do most people keep the same password for multiple accounts, even though they must have surely received some sort of warning against this practice multiple times throughout the years.  But I included a capital and a number…  Sorry, but that simply will not cut it these days.  Capitals, numbers, symbols, phrases and even rearranging the order of the password will yield exponentially better results.  If a password is difficult for you to remember, just imagine what problems it would cause the hacker.

Protect your passwords

While you’re at it, strengthen the security question as well.

You could have a super strong password, but with a weak and easy to determine security question all that hard work and clever thinking will all be for naught.  A good security question should not just lead you straight to the password, rather it should lead to another clue that will lead to another, that will eventually lead you to the password in the deep recesses of your mind.

Two-step authentication is nothing new.

Google has made it available for their online apps for over five years now.  Simply put, after a user has successfully entered their password, they will be asked to provide further evidence that they can indeed rightfully access the account.  This can take form in various ways, from an automated phone call, to a text or email requesting the entry of a secondary password or code.

Since no one ever wants to be a victim of ransomware or a corrupt drive deleting all the data contained within, it is a good practice (a mandatory practice for some companies) to backup their data.  Yes, it can be a pain to run a backup.  Yes, it takes time.  But it is by far one of the best ways to protect yourself from a malicious attack.  Think of it as an insurance policy for your online information.  And, just like a physical insurance policy it should be kept out of harms reach, preferably in a secondary facility.