In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international industry, there have been an influx of malicious phishing emails, SMS messages, and suspicious links popping up on our phones and computer screens, most likely designed by amateur hackers across the world who hope to take advantage of a simultaneous shift in the way we use our personal devices for a growing number of sensitive day-to-day activities, ranging from working to studying, and shopping to banking.
Rates of cybercrime have been on the rise across the globe over the past few years, and Australia has not been exempt from experiencing the negative impacts of this positive trend. As a result, cybersecurity experts have urged Aussie families and business owners to protect themselves against phishing attacks and malware by using the tools and resources.
But what is the best approach to ensuring that you stay protected against threats online? You can practice several methods to ensure a dynamic approach to your personal and professional cybersecurity needs.
Using secure network connections
Using a VPN (or a “virtual private network”) is perhaps one of the most effective ways that device users can keep their personal or device information hidden when jumping online. There is an abundance of VPN services Australian device users can choose from today, including a handful of free VPNs, so it’s well worth shopping around, so to speak, in order to find the right VPN service for you.
There are other methods for keeping your network secure, including limiting your use of public Wi-Fi networks. These tend to come with minimal network security, allowing others accessing the network to gain remote access to the device you’re using.
If you ever do need to access the internet while on the go, it’s always recommended that you either use a mobile data plan or, at the very least, a hotspot using another trusted device. It’s also well worth using mobile VPNs on all of your personal mobiles and tablets when accessing the internet.
Another popular method businesses adopt is setting up a VLAN (or “virtual local access network”) that allows staff members to access and work within an organisation’s private network remotely. VLANs are likely to be a major asset to modern organisations looking to adopt hybrid work models or even recruit remote workers, which is rapidly becoming more commonplace with the progression of true globalisation through digitalisation.
Investing in security software
Network security devices like VPNs and firewalls, can help your home or organisation’s cybersecurity measures maintain a multifaceted design and thus, be far more secure against digital threats. Ideally, you’ll want to use security software alongside additional cybersecurity measures to make the task of engineering a security breach as close to impossible as you can for prospective hackers.
Security software can also work hand in hand with ensuring that your network is in an optimal configuration for your household or organisational needs. Finding the right approach to your network security will likely require a little logical trial and error, so don’t hesitate to experiment, but be sure to do so safely by maintaining evergreen security measures like a VPN or firewall.
Keeping personal devices and technologies up to date
As more and more cyberthreats are utilising the power of machine learning to identify weak points in any cybersecurity strategy, it’s imperative now more than ever for you to ensure that all of your devices, security software, and all other cybersecurity measures you may take are routinely maintained and that all application updates are downloaded and implemented as soon as they’re made available.
Why? Because as malware developers have learned to use machine learning to strengthen their projects, so too have development teams behind consumer mobile apps and security software. Machine learning methods can now be used to accurately detect the presence of evolving malware and respond accordingly, allowing device users who are taking advantage of security software to maintain a proactive approach to their cybersecurity needs without even having to understand the security tools at their disposal.
Taking a diverse, multi-faceted, and proactive approach to your cybersecurity will ensure that you and your family or colleagues stay well-protected against digital threats as we delve further into an age where technologies continue to be evolving at a genuinely rapid fire pace.
Developing digital literacy skills
Finally, even though you don’t necessarily need to understand your cybersecurity measures in order for them to be effective, the best line of defence that billions of people worldwide can use without fail is simply maintaining an awareness of what ‘malicious content’ looks like when accessing the web.
Knowing what to look for and what should be avoided when browsing online can actually keep you, your devices, and potentially even your wider network safe against the ever-present threat posed by cybercriminals.
Educating yourself on what to do and what not to do in the face of a digital threat can make a world of difference in keeping ourselves safe online. This is precisely why a growing number of schools, tertiary institutions, and even workplaces across the globe are providing students and employees with digital literacy skills-building workshops and learning materials.
Digital literacy skills can also be taught at home and to younger children using educational apps and websites. After all, it’s never too early to learn these intrinsic life skills, especially for younger generations of digital natives who will likely need to tackle the dangers that lurk online at earlier points in their lives.
In a nutshell, keeping ourselves well-protected against cybercriminals naturally requires us to engage with the harsh truths that await us online while enjoying this digital age’s convenience.
Taking additional measures to protect yourself against threats online is a small price to pay for the luxuries provided to us by the world wide web and the innovative software and other digital technologies that we use in our daily lives.