Information Security 101: How to Prepare for 2020

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Recent studies – and multiple cases we’ve seen so far in 2019 – have shown that cyberattacks are not just becoming more frequent, but increasing in complexity as well. The types of attacks targeting internet users are on a steep rise. They are becoming more advanced too, rendering traditional cybersecurity measures nearly useless when deployed individually.

Experts are predicting an even steeper rise as we enter 2020. Everything from more advanced ransomware to computer malware that is nearly impossible to detect is plaguing the internet and investing thousands, even millions of devices across the globe. Preparing for the new wave of cyberattacks is a must, and here are some of the things you can do to get started.


The Right Tools for the Job

The first thing you want to do is make sure that your devices are sufficiently protected, and the way to do that is by integrating the right security measures and tools into them. A seldom updated antivirus will no longer do the job. You have to use the right set of tools to boost your device security to an acceptable level.

If you are a Windows 10 user, you already have Windows Defender covering the basics. The antivirus and antimalware software are, (un)surprisingly dependable. Windows Defender automatically scans for anomalies, which makes the tool perfect for preventing new types of attacks from ever affecting your devices.

macOS users can now use Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac as an added measure. The growing number of macOS users means there will be more cyberattacks targeting the operating system in the future. After all, any user is a valuable target, and more users make the MacOS landscape more lucrative to attackers.

Of course, relying on antivirus alone is not enough. Other tools you also want to use include:

  • A capable firewall for blocking and managing access to and from your device
  • Anti-malware for specific purposes, such as anti-ransomware
  • Spam filter for your email client
  • Browser security add-on for a safe browsing experience
  • Privacy tools or a VPN connection for private browsing

These tools will help you protect your privacy as well as your devices. They are designed to prevent attacks from ever affecting your actual files.


Encryption as a Solution

Encryption is the next step in the equation. Encrypting your files and data transferred from and to your devices is a must. With a private encryption key, you can prevent your personal information from every being exploited or used maliciously, even when the files themselves are stolen.

Similar to the previous security measures, there are tools you can use to encrypt files on the fly. Operating systems like Windows 10 and macOS already have built-in encryption tools; all you need to do is set up the encryption function to work across the device.

Third-party encryption tools may offer added features such as the ability to configure your own encryption key. However, you should only use a third-party encryption solution when you absolutely need the extra features it offers.

Speaking of encryption, plugins like HTTPS Everywhere can help you keep data transmissions secure by enforcing the use of HTTPS whenever you are browsing. This is particularly important when your online activities involve things such as financial transactions or accessing online learning platforms.

Universities like Kettering University already have their learning platforms secured using a valid SSL certificate. When you pursue an online engineering management degree from Kettering University, for instance, you remain protected whenever you access course materials or submit assignments.


Information Security Best Practices

With security measures set up and all of your files encrypted, it is time to move on to some of the best practices that must be maintained in order to maintain maximum security. Those best practices are:

  1. Always use a strong password. If you are not sure about how you can manage multiple strong passwords for your online accounts, find a suitable password manager to help you. A password manager is not as complicated to use as you think. Once it is configured, it will automatically remember your passwords and manage them for you. Password managers can even automatically replace weak passwords (i.e. for social media accounts) without you having to do it manually.
  2. Be mindful of the sites you access (and the emails you open). The majority of attacks happening right now still start with the user accessing a malicious URL or opening an infected file. You can avoid the majority of these attacks by knowing what you access at all times. The tools mentioned earlier will show warnings when you try to access malicious sites or files; pay attention to those warnings.
  3. Learn to configure your privacy settings correctly. Social media sites, online services, and even the aforementioned online learning platforms all have privacy settings. Unfortunately, the default settings are not always the best. Take the time to review your privacy settings so you know the kind of information you share with service providers and other users.
  4. Keep your devices up to date. Software and apps must be kept up to date too. Security patches are invaluable when you are trying to fend off attacks from unknown sources. It is also worth noting that updates and security patches will keep your devices fresh and capable of blocking the more basic attacks. You significantly reduce your attack surface simply by updating your apps and devices regularly.
  5. Only use trustworthy software. This too is important. Operating systems now certify the apps that are designed to run on top of them, so picking trustworthy apps is a lot easier today. You may still be tempted to use unauthorized apps and uncertified software, but you need to understand the risk when you do. Pirated apps are to be avoided completely, considering that most – if not all – of them are injected with backdoors and malware.

That’s it! Follow these tips and tricks to prepare yourself and your devices for 2020. Maintaining high information security and data privacy levels is crucially important as we enter 2020, so invest time (and money) in configuring your security measures to get started.

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