How to become cyber hygienic – it’s easier than you think

By Morayo Nwabufo*

Morayo Nwabufo

As technology evolves, cyber criminals adapt and create new and more effective methods of invasion, so you should always keep yourself – and your software up to date.

In our ever increasingly connected world, reports around the issue of cyber security are becoming more and more frequent. It’s not hard for even armchair observers to become overwhelmed by stories about malicious hacking activities, malware attacks, data and identity thefts, cyber espionage and more. While technology is a valuable and vital component in everyday lives of governments, businesses big and small and private citizen, it’s also a boon for individuals and entities with less than pure motives.

It would be wonderful to live in a world in which everyone behaved ethically online, but that’s not the case and it never will be. And while the devices, software systems and infrastructure we all use usually have their own set of security and safety features, we can’t afford to be lax when it comes to cyber security.  Network systems are attacked daily, and these attacks can range from malware, phishing, spyware, worms, hacktivists, to software defects, day-one exploits, deep-fake videos and photos and more.

While wholescale paranoia is not recommended, everyone needs to be on their guard from the biggest multinational corporation to a freelancer working from home. It’s called cyber hygiene and means that you must be aware of how to protect yourself when using the internet. It’s something we at Phase3 Telecom take very seriously, both for ourselves and our clients.

There are multiple ways to do stay safe online, and the good news is that wrapping one’s head around cyber hygiene best practices isn’t as hard as it sounds. In fact, some of the information I’m about to share might seem blindingly obvious to most.

But if you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: educating yourself about the safeguards is not only important, it’s a vital and ongoing process. As technology evolves, cyber criminals adapt and create new and more effective methods of invasion, so you should always keep yourself – and your software up to date.

Remember: Every day’s a school day.

There are some very easy best practice habits everyone can adopt to stay safe online. For starters, make password isn’t easy to guess – don’t use the names of loved ones, pets or anything listed on social media – and never use the same password for multiple accounts. Use the security settings on any social media accounts you have to make sure your profile isn’t visible to anyone other than your friends and when you’re shopping on the net, only use secure websites (ones that start with ‘https’ in their addresses).

Educate yourself on email security; not a day goes by in which scammers will attempt phishing attack to gain access to sensitive information, so watch out for emails from any organisations or individuals you don’t recognise that contain suspicious-looking links. If you receive such an email hover your cursor over the links and the email address to see if they’re legitimate. If they hit your work email, contact your IT department immediately. It’s also a good idea to practice two (or even three) step authentication when accessing your email account.

Keep all your software up to date, whether it be apps on your phone, the OS of your desktop or the anti-virus software you have installed, as it’s vital to ensure there are no security holes for hackers to exploit. Speaking of anti-virus or anti-malware packages, make sure you go with a reputable brand and not one just because it happens to be lighter on your wallet.

All these tips are useful to private individuals, but if you’re running a government department, an NGO or a business – however big or small – it’s worth making sure your colleagues and staff are practicing them too. Cyber hygiene applies to entities of all sizes from their workers to the networks they use to the cyber security measures they put in place.

These are all aspects we offer at Phase3; we already offer support and protection for multiple networks and multiple businesses including government institutions, NGOs, FMCGS, and ISPs. We are making sure that their connectivity is secure through are vast array of package – scalable to entities of any size – and education programs for their employees.

This is something we extend beyond our clients; we have our own community programs and CSR programs where some of our thematic considerations are on education development and providing advocacy and awareness. One of the reasons we do this is not only to bridge the digital divide but also to ensure that as many people as possible know how to protect themselves online. We have a wealth of experience of 18 years in this business to draw on and we’re happy to share it.

Heading into 2022 we are seeing more innovation and more proliferation of technology. This means more people and organisations will become more vulnerable and open especially if they do not practice cyber hygiene. It’s vital that doing so becomes part of our every day lives. It’s something we’re passionate about and ready to help with – and really, it’s easier than it sounds.

*Morayo Nwabufo is  Phase3 Group Head, Co-Comms & Digital Services

 

 

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