Blog/Infosec 101/

6 steps to improve cyber hygiene

May 15, 2020

cyber hygiene

Our lives spin around various routines: every day, we wake up at the same time, take a shower, eat breakfast, and brush our teeth. It helps us to maintain our well-being and prepare ourselves for the day. Routine is also the core of cyber hygiene — a term that many might not be familiar with, but that is crucial for the IT infrastructure of any organization.

What is cyber hygiene?

Cyber hygiene is a set of practices to manage security risks and maintain a functioning IT system. You can call it a proactive approach to prevent users from data breaches and leaks.

We eat vegetables, attend the gym, and do regular health check-ups for our bodies to work properly in the future. This comparison explains a lot about cyber hygiene — if you want to have a healthy IT infrastructure, you need to prepare in advance. Nothing can be worse than taking your health seriously only after an illness strikes.

Shared responsibility

Cyber hygiene works only when the employer and the employee clearly know their roles and understand the consequences of their actions. Everybody, from office administrator to CEO, must know the purpose of a strong password, two-factor authentication, file encryption, and secure behavior online.

Companies have to be wary of the attacks from outside, but keep in mind that incidents might occur within the organization as well. We’ll take a look at some tips that will help to fight off cyber threats of the digital world.

6 steps to better cyber hygiene

1. Install antivirus software

Antivirus will prevent your computer system from viruses, worms, Trojan horses, adware, and other types of malware. Malicious apps can damage your IT infrastructure, steal your sensitive information, and they are always evolving.

2. Update your system regularly

It is very important to regularly update your operating system, apps, antivirus, and other software. Sometimes a pop-up for an update appears when you’re in the middle of work and we postpone it for the next day. And then for the next, again and again. Remember the part about routine? This is exactly what we are talking about. Updating your system regularly is like brushing your teeth — it takes time, and sometimes we get lazy, but it can cut the dentist bills in the future.

3. Use strong passwords

Many people use the same password for all of their accounts, and that’s one of the most common mistakes. Imagine using one key for your apartment, office, and car — this key would be worth gold in the wrong hands. However, many wouldn’t blink twice to use the same password for everything from their work email to Instagram account. Your logins and passwords can be leaked and end up in the black market — when you use the same one for all your accounts, you become vulnerable.

The safest option is to use long scrambled passwords of letters, numbers, and special characters. Are you thinking: “How on earth am I supposed to remember that?” Don't panic — there are tools for managing your passwords.

4. Encrypt your files

Following the best practices of cyber hygiene, it’s advisable to encrypt your sensitive information. With NordLocker, you can encrypt all types of files on your hard drive and share them with your co-workers securely. You don’t need to exchange any passwords as everyone accesses their digital vaults with their own passwords.

Contracts, legal documents, financial statements — everything can be secured with NordLocker and kept on a computer or in the cloud storage. Even if you lose your machine, nobody will be able to access the files.

5. Back up data

Infected hard drive, broken computer, or accidental deletion — there are thousands of ways to lose your important documents. We recommend backing up your files on an external drive or cloud storage and keeping them encrypted. This way, you can be sure that if something happens, your data is always within reach.

6. Limit users

The bigger your organization is, the more seriously you have to take the administrative privileges of IT infrastructure. Make sure to limit access rights so employees could only use the tools and information they need to perform their tasks.

You have to keep logs and monitor networks to track the actions of every user in case of cyber incidents.

Take your cyber hygiene seriously — it will save you money, and some brain cells in the future. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Oliver Noble

Oliver Noble

Verified author

A nerd with a laser focus on all things cybersec. His own words. Oliver’s hobbies away from the computer include reading, Netflix, and testing the limits of yet another Raspberry Pi. To our surprise, this 130-pound ‘nerd’ also bakes a killer pumpkin pie.