The holidays are a jolly time of year, there’s no denying that. One thing we also can’t deny is that nothing can put a damper on the holiday season quite like getting your computer hacked into. As it turns out, the holidays present a higher-than-usual risk for online safety. Due to people being so trusting during this time – and due to the obvious increase in online expenditure – it’s easy to overlook some of the common pitfalls of online attacks. Opening oneself up to a cyber-attack during this time risks financial information and private data. Follow these steps in order to minimize online vulnerability during the holidays.
Segment Sensitive Data
Flat, open networks are a playground for cyber attackers, allowing them to navigate as they see fit should they find an opening. The best practice is to segment your sensitive data, keeping your important backups far from being connected to your primary network. This will keep attackers from accessing data you label as privileged.
Keep Your Network Clean
If your device is connected to the internet (which, in all likelihood, it is), it’s important for all connections to be purified. Cleanliness, in regards to network security, means applying recommended security and patch upgrades and updating the computer with the newest software. With the internet of things (IoT) on the come-up, computing potential has been opened up to new degrees, and with this change comes a host of new avenues for cyber attackers to take when targeting users like you. Because of this, it’s now more important than ever to update and patch your devices. If a device is too archaic to patch, it might be time to consider a replacement.
Monitor Device Traffic and Access
Even if your devices are adequately patched and are using defined policies, it’s still important for you to monitor its connections. This means keeping track of all traffic moving in and out of the network and letting your IT team know when your device connects with someone – or something – suspicious. Also, it’s important for you to know who is in your own network and what sort of information they’re accessing. Make a habit of continuously keeping track of internal interactions. This way, if privileged information is being accessed by someone outside your network, you’ll know right away.
Put Your Network to the Test
After taking the above steps, the best way to find out if your network is truly secure is for you to try and hack it yourself. Until your cyber security is put to the test, there’s no telling if the applied patches are valid, or if the data you meant to segment is much easier to get to than it should be.
While compliance with these steps won’t be a bulletproof guarantee of your network security this holiday season (no such guarantees exist in IT, anyway), they will increase your network protection exponentially, and paint you in the least attractive light possible to the legions of cyber attackers out there. As you’ll likely find, a cyber-safe holiday season is a jolly one, indeed.