Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity best practices to improve your cyber hygiene

Practicing cyber hygiene in your personal and professional life can strengthen your organization and keep you safe against an evolving threat landscape but this process will be continuous and ever-changing.

Improve your cyber hygiene to protect your personal and professional data

As data breaches in the US rose by 78% in 2023,1 implementing cybersecurity best practices is crucial to protecting your organizational and personal data.

Protecting sensitive data from outside threats is paramount in your personal and professional life. Employing cyber hygiene across all devices and networks protects your own sensitive data, plus any company data accessed remotely. Practicing safe cybersecurity habits makes it more difficult for hackers to access sensitive data or infiltrate application systems.

What is cybersecurity hygiene?

Cybersecurity hygiene, or cyber hygiene, is a collection of best practices for individuals and organizations to follow and perform to maintain the security of users, data, systems, and devices. These habits create a safer overall environment for your organization’s data and your own.

Cyber hygiene best practices

Implementing these best practices across your individual and professional devices and accounts will enhance your cybersecurity efforts.

1. Use secure passwords and change them frequently

Passwords should use a mixture of capital letters, numbers, and symbols, if allowed, to help prevent password breaches. Changing your passwords often will minimize risk, and using a secure password manager can help you keep track of recent updates or compromised accounts. Using separate passwords between personal and organizational accounts provides an added layer of security in the event of a breach. Another best practice is using passphrases. A passphrase is a sequence of words or other text. This is like a password but more secure and easier to remember.

2. Develop a risk management plan

If your organization already has a risk management plan in place, familiarize yourself with the details in the case of a cybersecurity breach. This may be in the form of incident response or disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Consider creating a similar risk management plan to protect private data. For your personal accounts, leveraging multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible could go a long way to prevent malicious activity.

3. Perform regular backups and patching

Systems and applications are most secure when their software is updated regularly. Backing up data and updating systems can limit the risk of data loss. Regularly assessing your security measures and backing up data can limit the risk of loss and data corruption. It is recommended to keep backups off-site or in the Cloud as on-premises backups could be a target during a ransomware attack.

4. Leverage tools to enhance cybersecurity

Your organization may already include or require cybersecurity tools like firewall protection, MFA to access accounts, or anti-virus software. In addition to using these tools and keeping them updated, applying them to your personal devices and network may protect you further. Applying at-home firewall protection, only connecting to secure wi-fi networks, and adding antivirus software to your personal hardware will enhance your overall cyber hygiene.

5. Consider organization-specific best practices

Although these cyber security recommendations are considered universal, your organization may have additional measures in place to protect you and your data. This can include recognizing and reporting phishing emails or downloading software on devices accessing company data. Learning about any organization-specific best practices or how to respond to possible security threats can help you react quickly.

Benefits of cyber hygiene

Though practicing good cyber hygiene leads to increased cybersecurity, there are additional benefits to prioritizing these practices. By protecting your organization from data breaches and cyberattacks, cyber hygiene promotes overall resiliency. Organizations equipped against these threats are more likely to keep their data protected and systems running. Plus, secure organizations typically incur fewer related costs and can have greater productivity, as additional resources aren’t delegated to security efforts.

Practicing cyber hygiene can build trust among different factions of an organization. Employees, stakeholders, and when applicable, customers, prefer organizations that work to protect their personal and professional data. Better yet, adhering to cybersecurity compliance may boost your organization’s reputation.

Implementing these cybersecurity best practices in your personal life will protect your data and privacy, reducing the risk of identity theft and fraud. Personal cyber hygiene can also be a crucial barrier against cyber threats aimed at your organization.

Be proactive about cyber hygiene

Practicing cyber hygiene in your personal and professional life can strengthen your organization and keep you safe against an evolving threat landscape. However, as cyber threats evolve, protecting personal and professional data will require additional steps, technology, and awareness. This process will be continuous and ever-changing. Creating a consistent cybersecurity plan and proactively looking to improve will help keep your personal and professional data safe from future threats.

At CAI, we take a comprehensive, proactive approach to preventing cybersecurity threats before they happen. We assess your current organizational environment and understand the cyberattack trends that are most likely to damage your systems. If you’re looking to better safeguard your organization against cyberattacks, contact us.


Endnotes

  1. Madnick, Stuart. “If Companies Are So Focused on Cybersecurity, Why Are Data Breaches Still Rising?” The Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2024. https://www.wsj.com/tech/cybersecurity/why-are-cybersecurity-data-breaches-still-rising-2f08866c.

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