As cybersecurity leaders, we have to create our message of influence because security is a culture, and you need the business to take place and be part of that security culture.” Britney Hommertzheim

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how people live their lives. This includes maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, becoming diligent in pandemic hygiene. However, this period also gave an onset to a new norm of working, i.e. work from home. This brought new challenges for businesses as supporting an entirely remote workforce was new to many companies. Moreover, organizations had to outline strategies to make their IT Infrastructure fully available to access from anywhere while ensuring the security of the same. While on the one hand, the pandemic has led to a new form of work culture, on the other, it has created a need for businesses & individuals to be mindful about their cyber hygiene.

Cyber hygiene alludes to best practices that users should embrace while engaging in online activities, such as web browsing, emailing, texting, connecting to the work network for working from home etc. With increased online activity, there is an increased risk and exposure to cyber threats and cyber thefts.

Talking of cyber thefts, not long back, WHO faced an offensive attack wherein the cyber criminals had set up a website imitating the WHO’s internal email system to steal login credentials from the organization’s employees.

Benefits of Cyber Hygiene

Taking cyber hygiene seriously helps businesses prevent large-scale data breaches and saves the company from financial loss and reputation damage. Employees abiding by proper cyber hygiene protocols make the company less susceptible to attacks, thus eventually boosting the business. Further, proper knowledge about cyber hygiene instils confidence in clients and other stakeholders in conducting business over the web. To sum up, cyber hygiene helps in:

1. Maintaining unobstructed and safe business operations over the web

2. Boosting confidence in both the clients and stakeholders about their business

3. Reducing risks of financial loss and reputation damage

4. Dodging targeted attacks to the employees, clients and stakeholders of a business

5. Ensuring better data privacy for users

Employees are often believed that the IT department can fix everything or that antivirus programming is almighty. None of this is valid. Cyberattacks can come in multiple forms and often escalate in unexpected ways. Employees can't forestall a cyberattack from coming in their direction. However, complete data security knowledge for workers can limit human error, increment and increase their reaction capacity.

The most common type of cyber identity theft includes stealing passwords and personal information etc. Thus to curtail and avert cyber theft, it is very important that the employees and the IT department of the organization prepare a checklist related to cyber hygiene.

Here are some quick tips to maintain cyber hygiene -

1. Be wary of clicking on strange links sent via unverified email accounts. It is recommended to install an email spam detector to automate protection from phishing and social engineering attacks.

2. Be mindful of the permissions you give to websites, mobile applications & browser extensions.

3. Take cognizance of the actions you take on the web, for example the forms you fill and the links you click on.

4. Be careful while using an open public network. If possible, always connect to the web through a secure network or VPN.

5. Keep your softwares updated with the latest security patches.

6. Make sure to keep safe backups of your critical data.

7. Always good to keep a tab on the latest cyber attacks & ensure you are protected from them.

The author is the Chief Operating Officer, Astra Security