Our computers act as a gateway to sensitive personal and professional information. In a time when we have a growing number of Canadians using one device for both purposes, it has become increasingly important to ensure the device is protected from any nefarious activity. A recent survey we commissioned with Angus Reid looked at working Canadians understanding of the cyberthreats they face through their computers and steps they can take to shore up its security.
To help educate Canadians on the importance of protecting one’s computer, we’ve provided some helpful tips that should be put into practice.
Encrypt your hard drive
In contrast to phones, people tend to do more document work on computers. As a result, encrypting your hard drive is essential to maintaining security for your sensitive information. Encryption is the process of turning data into code so it’s unreadable by bad actors and prevents it from being shared online. Concerningly, a net 21 percent rarely or never review their device security and privacy settings. Investing in a virtual private network (VPN) will also help to keep your information and activity from being viewed and shared online as it re-routes your internet activity to prevent it from being traced back to your device.
Maintain physical awareness
Cellphones are compact and easy to carry around meaning we usually keep them in a pocket or purse. In contrast, laptops are bulkier tend to be left unattended more often which poses a serious security risk. When using a laptop, make sure to keep it in a bag when on the go and try to avoid leaving it open, even if you only plan to step away from it for just a minute. Make sure it’s closed when not in use and make a habit of logging out of your profile when you are not within the vicinity.
Beware of scam emails
Similar to phishing attempts through text messages, e-mail scams are being used regularly by hackers to gain access to an unsuspecting victim’s information. When sorting through e-mails, do not click on any suspicious links or attachments as it can provide threat actors easy access to not only your information, but at your organization’s as well. Shockingly, only 52 percent of working Canadians cited phishing scams as a top cybersecurity concern. It’s important to note these e-mails often prey on people’s emotions in order to get you to click through and are designed to look professional. If you are wary of any e-mail you receive, make sure to report it instead of deleting it.
Make your computer, yours
Computers, like most devices, come with factory settings and passwords. While these should be kept private, they are often standard passwords and can be found online. Our survey found that while three quarters of respondents change the factory settings and passwords on their computer, only 44 percent of them change it every time. Concerningly, this isn’t a priority for over one quarter (27%) of our respondents. Similar to a password on any device, computer passwords or passphrases should be a complex variety of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols, which 90 percent of respondents use. Of equal importance, it should remain a secret. However, some Canadians don’t agree with this sentiment way as over one quarter (28%) of respondents share their password with a few people.
Invest in trusted antivirus measures
Investing in a trusted antivirus program will go a long way in protecting your computer from harmful viruses and hackers that aim to access your information. Once you install a program, make sure to check it periodically to see what actions are being taken on your computer and use file cleaning options regularly. Only 34 percent of respondents noted staying up to date with operating system updates as a priority for them. It’s crucial your antivirus program stays up to date with patches to ensure you have the best possible protection available against new and emerging threats.
With decades of experience, CDW can objectively assess your organization’s cybersecurity practices and create a strategy that helps you predict, prevent and quickly respond to evolving cyberattacks. To learn more, visit cdw.ca/cybersecurity.