Essential Cybersecurity Skills You Have to Learn

Essential Cybersecurity Skills You Have to Learn

When humans were still living out in the wilderness, knowing which berries were safe to eat and which predators left what kind of trail was essential to their survival. Today, when most of us live in a digital world, both predators and poisonous threats are present in the online world.

So, like our ancestors, we have to learn how to navigate the dangers of the world we live in. Your private conversations, banking information, home address, and the school that your kids go to all exist online. The last thing you want is for any of these to be exposed to the wrong person.

If this were to happen, you would be in danger (both digital and physical, but most likely, financial). So, here are the top five “survival” skills that you have to learn in order to stay safe in the digital world.

1. Picking the right antivirus program

To stay safe online, the first and most important thing you need to do is learn how to choose a suitable AV software for your device.

Naturally, you’ll start by checking out a bit of their reputation and see which of these platforms supports the OS of your device.

Next, you need to do the research on the pricing. We’re not just talking about the cost per month but the payment method, as well. Are you paying a monthly subscription or for the whole year/quarter in advance?

A lot of antivirus programs are free but have some features locked behind a paywall. If you’re a casual internet user (not a professional working online but someone who just spends a bit of time on YouTube and social media), chances are that you don’t need more than a free system. In fact, if you don’t have a habit of downloading things online, you would be just fine even with the basic protection.

Another thing you want to check is the frequency of updates. Are you safe from all the viruses from two weeks ago, one week ago, or one day ago? This can make a huge difference, but it can also justify spending substantially more on antivirus software.

2. Create a good password

The next thing you need to consider is the importance of creating a good password. No matter where you choose to register, you’ll be asked to make a password.

Now, some platforms will insist on a strong password and won’t even allow you to register without it. This means that they’ll have a minimal number of characters (usually eight), and they will insist that you mix some uppercase characters, lowercase characters, numerals, and symbols into the mix.

The problem is that this won’t always be the case, and while this method is trying to strongarm you into making a strong password, if you’re dead-set on picking something simple and intuitive, there’s no way to stop you. Sure, “password” is clearly a bad password, but do you really think “P@ssword1” is any better?

Most importantly, a good password is unique and random. It’s not your birthday or your anniversary. It’s not your kid’s nickname or the name of your pet. All of these things are general knowledge (more than you think). After all, this information is available to anyone who follows you on social media, as well as to anyone who has insight into your friends’ social media (which could be anyone).

The shortcut around all of this is just to start using the password manager.

3. Learn what you would never post on social media

One of the most ironic occurrences of the modern age is the people who are paranoid about someone spying on them (usually the government) but who post everything about themselves and their day. They post where they are working out, where and when they’re picking up their kids from school, and where and when they’re going out. If anyone wanted to map their itinerary, they would need no spy work and no tracking device.

The truth is that you don’t really know all the people you have in your friends/followers on social media. Even if you did, you have no idea who has a psycho roommate/SO with free use of their social media.

If your profile is public, there’s no need even to send you a friend request (and raise red flags this way). All they would have to do is take a look at your profile, browse a bit, figure out locations, circle of friends, and schedule and that’s it.

Also, remember that everything you post on social media is forever. You have no way of knowing who has a screenshot, even if you delete the post afterward. Not only that but just because it didn’t resurface right away, this doesn’t mean that it will never happen.

Remember, you also need to teach your kids how to stay safe online, not just worry about your own safety.

4. Figure out how to recognize phishing

The next task is incredibly important and often overlooked. Many people, both professionally and personally, fall for phishing schemes.

Phishing is when you click on a link that takes you where you’re not supposed to go. The link says one thing (or the anchor text, at least), and you go somewhere else entirely. Alternatively, it may look like a benevolent link, but it might start a download of a dangerous file. The worst scenario is when you land on a page that looks legitimate but is actually a scheme designed to make you give away all your personal information. It doesn’t take much to explain why each of these scenarios can be a proper nightmare.

So, how do you recognize phishing?

Generally speaking, there are three tips you need to follow:

  • Hover over any link that you’re sent. The URL often won’t match the anchor text, and this is already a worrying sign.

  • Be skeptical of unsolicited emails from sources you don’t know. If they ask you to visit their site, why not just Google it and access it straight from SERPs instead of just clicking on the link?

  • Look for irregularities. Sometimes, the site you know about won’t be spelled right.

The key thing is to look for phishing, this way, you’ll have an easier job recognizing it when it does happen. The biggest reason why so many people fall for phishing is because they don’t even know it exists. How can you protect yourself from something that you’ve never heard of? Raising awareness is, therefore, the first step.

These four skills alone will make you harder to crack

If all your devices have antivirus software, all your passwords are solid, you never reveal too much about yourself, and you are careful of any links coming your way. You’re already way ahead of 90% of internet users.

Sure, you can never be completely safe, but this is such a nonsense argument. It’s like saying that wearing a seatbelt won’t protect you from a meteor strike. It’s absolutely true, but it doesn’t prove anything, doesn’t mean anything, and carries no practical value.

Keeping yourself safe is always a top priority.

For more information, visit ApzoMedia