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Cybersecurity: Basic notions and best practices

Posted on Thursday November 05, 2020

Cybersecurity: Basic notions and best practices

The risk of experiencing a cyber attack has never been greater. Last year, 70% of Canadians were victims of a cybersecurity incident, a 12% increase over 2 years, with 6% of them incurring financial losses.  
The image of a teenager in a bathrobe taking control of your computer from their parents’ basement may be outdated, but the fraudsters are still out there. 

Recognizing cybersecurity risks 

The term cybersecurity refers to information protection issues involving modern means of communications and computer systems. In other words, cybersecurity consists of all the protection measures used to combat identify theft and fraud. 

Shopping online is very convenient and saves you a lot of time. However, providing personal information to confirm, pay for and deliver purchases is not without risk. A credit card number, full address, phone number and e-mail address are required when placing an order. How do you make sure that this information does not get into the wrong hands? 

Online security: Be vigilant at all times 

When making online purchases, try to restrict yourself to known retailers and sites. If something seems off about a website, you may be on a fake e-commerce site. And if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is! Sites like this are created to steal your identity or take control of your computer. 

If you are purchasing something from an individual through a classified ad site like Kijiji, Craigslist or Marketplace, avoid paying for your purchases in advance. On auction sites like eBay, only pay using your credit card or reputable payment solutions such as PayPal. 

Account cybersecurity and phishing 

Some hackers take over your devices without your knowledge, while others use e-mails and the phone to obtain your personal information, a practice known as phishing. To ensure you are protected, avoid clicking on links in unsolicited e-mails that may be malicious. Also, never disclose the access codes to your bank accounts and credit card numbers over the phone, in texts or e-mails, or on social media. 

Choose complex passwords to protect your computer, mobile device and Wi-Fi network. A strong password contains at least eight characters, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and at least one special character such as ! or #. Avoid using your dog’s name or your address in your passwords!  
For important transactions (like bank transfers), always use a private network such as your Wi-Fi at home. The risk is much greater on public networks (like the one at your local coffee shop). 

Multifactor authentication: An additional barrier for scammers 

Multifactor authentication requires you to use an additional factor to verify your identity before you can access your accounts. This is what happens when an organization texts you a code after you enter your password to confirm that it's actually you who are attempting to log in.  
With multifactor authentication, a phisher who gets hold of your password would not be able to log into your account because they would not have access to your phone and therefore would not be able to receive the access code. 

Protection software for your computer 

Devices at risk of being taken over by hackers include computers, tablets and mobile devices. Hackers can more easily access your bank accounts and credit cards or other personal information through these devices. Good protection software is an essential defensive weapon for cybersecurity.  

Today, some antivirus programs come with a firewall, anti-spyware software and a phishing filter to provide comprehensive protection for your computer. For maximum efficiency, update your software regularly and schedule an antivirus scan at least once a week.  

It is also important to regularly update your operating systems. In addition, the security settings of your browser, such as Chrome or Explorer, can be customized. At the end of each session, clear your browsing history and log out of your accounts. This will ensure that you leave no trace of your confidential information. 

Mobile devices protection 

We use mobile devices to take pictures and notes, respond to e-mails, and more. Our tablets and smartphones contain as much personal information as our computers, which makes them prime targets for fraud and identity theft attempts. 

Just like your computer, your mobile device must be updated regularly. Avoid leaving the Bluetooth function on regardless of the device you are using. After a few minutes of inactivity, your phone should automatically lock and then unlock only when you enter your password. Check your settings to make sure this is the case.  

Downloadable apps are very appealing to those who like to play games or perform certain tasks easily from a mobile device. However, malicious apps sometimes make their way into app stores such as the App Store and Google Play. Therefore, you need to be careful. Is the app developer well known? Does the app require unlimited or virtually unlimited access to your data? 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure 

Our hyperconnected world is full of possibilities, but they come laden with risks. Focusing on prevention can provides you with priceless peace of mind. 

Sharpening your reflexes will help you avoid potentially dramatic situations and significant losses of time and money. If you have any questions about cybersecurity, please contact us. 

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