Updated: Jun 30
In my time as a cyber engineer I have met many people that would prefer to stick their head in the sand and do nothing. There is a powerless feeling. Tech feels so complex and challenging and above them. But it does not have to be and sticking your head in the sand will only make things worse.
The majority of cyber issues stem from very simple and easy to fix issues. We call this cyber hygiene. It is critical to maintain cyber hygiene on all your machines. This is very basic things such as keeping your machines patched and up to date. Knowing to never click on the link. Keeping your anti-malware installed and up to date. Ensuring you maintain regular backups of your data. Using encryption for sensitive data.
It is societal norm to do certain basic hygiene things before going out in public. For example, if we do not shower for months or years at a time then people would have a very bad reaction if we were trying to interact with them. It is an expected norm that people will shower and put on clean clothes, deodorant, etc.
There are very fundamental things that are the cyber equivalent of regular showering. One of the biggest is making sure you have the latest patches and your software is up to date. This includes not only your operating system such as Windows but also, your applications such as Adobe Reader for example. There is a constant cycle of attackers finding new ways of attacking and the software companies being updated. If you skip your patches it is akin to leaving your doors and windows in the house wide open and unprotected and inviting an intruder in. The good news is most vendors make it easy to update. Microsoft has a regular schedule and as long as you set your computer to update automatically (the default), all you have to do is reboot your computer when it tells you to. Applications vary in how they do updates, but generally they have an option to check for updates. Plan to regularly check it and update your software and you will close many of those computer's doors and windows. It is not complete protection, but just keeping things up to date goes a long way towards protecting yourself.
Similarly, anti-malware comes standard on many types of devices. If you don't have it you need to make sure you have it. This applies to all devices including mobile devices. Attackers target all types of platforms now. There is no "safe" device. There are always new malwares coming out and there are continually new and innovative ways that attackers come up with to get them on your computer. Anti-malware tools have a library of them and work like a vaccine to help reduce your risk of getting a bad infection. But if it doesn't have that malware in its library then it won't be able to protect your computer systems.
Keeping things up to date is an extremely simple and easy thing to do and it will drastically reduce your risks. So go get those computers and anti-malware updated!