With so many people now working remotely, cyber hygiene is especially important because people are often handling private, sensitive information at home. Complicating that, there’s also been a rise in hackers targeting businesses. Cyber hygiene means taking active steps to improve your cybersecurity while browsing the web, communicating and other common online activities. Without strong cyber hygiene, it’s all too easy for your data privacy to be compromised thanks to a ransomware attack or a bad actor tricking their way into accessing it. So, what can you do to practice strong cyber hygiene? Here are five tips.


1. Start with your passwords

It may seem like the obvious first step, but passwords are actually one of the most common areas where people don’t use proper cyber hygiene. Think about how often you’ve reused a password, used your birthday as a password or shared your password with someone over email or text message. If a hacker accesses just one of your passwords or finds out your birthday, accessing multiple accounts becomes easy. The best thing you can dois to set up passwords that are a 12-digit sequence of numbers, letters and symbols that make it difficult for hackers to guess and to use a digital safe like LastPass or 1Password to keep them safe.


Pro tip: It’s absolutely critical that your WiFi router password is not be the built-in default password that comes with the router because those types of passwords are easy to guess and can be easily breached. When you’re working from home and dealing with private business information, it’s critical that your home WiFi is strongly protected.


2. Make sure everything is up to date

It’s important to regularly update all of your software to make sure that they have the latest security to protect your data privacy. Updates fix vulnerabilities in software, protecting you from hackers. Be religious about updating your devices—don’t click “not now” because it’s inconvenient. Here’s a good guide on enabling automatic updates for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.


3. Use secure tools when sharing files and having sensitive conversations

When you’re working at home it’s inevitable that you will have to share sensitive files and hold private conversations. In those kinds of situations, email and text simply won’t cut it. Make sure you opt for tools that can protect your communications, like a secure messaging solution. Look for tools that go beyond encryption, protecting your conversations and files not only while they’re in transit but also when they’re on other people’s devices.


4. Keep an eye out for spam and phishing attempts

Hackers are relying heavily on social engineering to try to and trick employees into granting them access to their networks. Keep an eye out for any bizarre looking emails—always verify who they come from and, if you’re even just a little suspicious, do not click any links. If you get an email from your manager asking you to do something that’s out of character—call them to confirm. If you’re in IT and a staff member calls for remote access, have a way to verify their identity. Hackers are smart, know how to outsmart them.


5. Be prepared

Just like good hygiene helps protect you from COVID-19 but can’t guarantee you won’t get sick, good cyber hygiene reduces the likelihood of your data being compromised but can’t stop it completely. Make sure you have everything backed up offline and run backups on a regular basis so that you can restore uncompromised data during a cyberattack.


In order to practice strong cyber hygiene to protect your data privacy, you also need to pick the right digital tools. Vaporstream is a secure messaging solution that makes it easy for employees to share sensitive information while practicing strong cyber hygiene. Employees can easily share files, images and reach colleagues on any device at any time. Unauthorized users can’t access your organization’s channel, so hackers can’t attempt to trick employees as they work from home. You can even use Vaporstream to secure processes like resetting passwords. To learn more, schedule a demo.