By guest blogger Jason Kichen

The pace of business requires us to always be connected. This uber-connectivity in turn increases what’s known as your “attack surface”.

For hackers, your computer, cell phone, tablet and public Wi-Fi present expanding opportunities for hackers to gain access to your digital life and wreak havoc. Making yourself an even slightly harder target will likely convince hackers to find someone else.

Here are some simple steps to minimize your digital vulnerabilities:

  1. Stop clicking links. Instead of throwing caution to the wind and just clicking, evaluate it first. Who sent it? Do I recognize the sender? Do I trust them? Does this link make sense, given the link itself and who sent it?
    If it’s something easy, like your banks’ website, use your browser’s bookmark or just type the link in yourself. Ninety percent of a hackers’ success comes through sending someone a link that they trust and click. All you need to do is be more cautious before clicking a link.

  2. Make sure your Internet browser is set to auto-update. It doesn’t matter which browser you use, all of them have the same feature. In the settings menu, make sure the box is checked to auto update the browser whenever an update is released.
    Browser vulnerabilities are one of the main ways that hackers exploit your computer, and ensuring that the browser is up to date with the latest security patches is critical. Having the browser update automatically means you don’t have to worry about it.

  3. Don’t use public Wi-Fi (airports, hotels, etc.). It isn’t secure and it’s downright dangerous. It is much safer to use your cell phone as a hotspot, if possible. But sometimes Wi-Fi is the only option, and if it is, use a Virtual Private Network (or VPN).
    A VPN makes sure your internet traffic is encrypted. Even though you’re on someone else’s network, you can feel at ease doing business and managing your digital life. VPN services can be found online for free or for small monthly or yearly fees.

These steps aren’t overly technical, nor will they ensure that you won’t get hacked, but they are easy-to-do steps that will make 90 percent of the hackers out there move on from you and find an easier target. That’s really what the cyber security battle is all about: You can’t stop all the adversaries, but you can make yourself a harder target.

Related article: Top Cybersecurity Threats to Watch for in 2018

Jason Kichen is director of cybersecurity services at Versive, a machine-learning company. His father, Jon Kichen, sits on the Arizona REALTORS® 2017 Risk Management Committee.

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