The threats are real

We all understand why it is crucial to secure buildings against fire. We should understand the importance of securing our information the same way.

However, this often does not happen. A possible reason is that we underestimate the severity of threats. We don’t even know about them sometimes, even though they can seriously affect our professional and private lives.

That’s why the Cybersecurity Team of Masaryk University – CSIRT-MU has prepared a series of six articles about the basics of information security for you. They will provide you with user-friendly and easy-to-apply tips, which will help you reduce the risk of a “flare-up” of your information. It’s the minimum that every educated person should know in the 21st century, regardless of the field in which they work.

The threats are real

You, your partner, your parents, your kids… attacker consider you all the weakest part of the cyber security system. Because it is usually to relate to the irrational and fallible human character than to try to overcome sophisticated technological measures. It would be a mistake to think that you are too “insignificant” to be the target of an attack.
Cybercrime is becoming more widespread. Of course, the usual motivation of attackers is financial gain. Others may want to get your sensitive data or access rights to different accounts. Some attackers may care about damage and your reputation. There are also known cases where the attacker steals the victim’s identity. And finally, some attackers simply enjoy it.

In addition, many attacks are automated nowadays, supplemented by elements of manipulation (so-called social engineering). Combined with users' ignorance and lackadaisical attitude, this is often enough for an attacker to succeed. What can happen then? Just imagine it. Suddenly your computer stops working, and a ransom demand appears on your monitor. You probably won't get your data back. All school and professional work, essential documents, or vacation photos are gone. And forever. This scenario is certainly not unrealistic. It describes so-called ransomware (one of the types of malware = harmful code), which is increasingly popular with attackers. And it is far from the only possible threat that can directly affect you. However, the point is not to present you with a long list of definitions of individual attack methods but to show that each of us represents an attractive target.

How to defend yourself efficiently?

Defense does not have to be complicated. The measures we will present to you in the following series of articles will be simple. Everyone will be able to apply them. Here we will point out just five practical tips you can use immediately.

  1. Back up your data regularly, ideally in multiple locations.
  2. Always keep your operating system and software up to date and have the anti-virus software installed.
  3. Choose phrase passwords that are hard to guess but easy to remember (for example: “steel squirrel doesn’t jump”).
  4. Be careful what you share about yourself online.
  5. Think critically and question information – the internet is a place full of scammers.

In conclusion

People often take information security as a necessary evil or ignore it completely until something happens. Then they desperately try to repair the damage. Such an approach is not precisely reasonable nor practical. Therefore, do not underestimate prevention. Preventing the fire is always much better than fighting it.

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