Much like practicing personal hygiene is important to maintaining good health and well-being, practicing cyber hygiene is vital to keeping data safe and well protected, and decreasing the chances of security breaches and malware affecting the user or organization. Cyber hygiene can be understood as a set of practices taken by people or organizations when using a computer or other smart devices, in order to manage data security risks and improve online security.
Routine hygiene is beneficial for maintenance and security of your computers and software, especially during times when we are forced to work from home. Over time software programs become outdated which can increase the risk of vulnerabilities. Poor cyber hygiene can result in problems such as loss of data from hackers, security breaches due to phishing attacks or viruses, and older security software. Routine maintenance can help detect certain issues before they evolve to something more serious, thus decreasing cybersecurity risks. The security aspect of hygiene is important since the threat landscape can include malicious hackers, identity thieves, and malware to name a few. Cyber hygiene acts like a defense in order to decrease the chances of these threats from resulting in an actual attack on the company.
It’s important to keep in mind that effective hygiene relies on the whole organization, meaning all employees must be involved in this process not just the IT department. This is especially important as the threat landscape is dynamic and can include technological or social engineering threats. For these reasons, it’s important for the organization to consult with experts to implement effective hygiene practices. A simple checklist for users or companies to incorporate can consist of password changes, software updates, limiting user access, practicing safe email use, and backing up data as to decrease the company’s chance of a cyber infection.