Tech communications consultant | Science background | CCO @ CyberNews
You know what’s really sexy?
It’s also important in our modern world, but when people write about cybersecurity, they always make it so...dry and tasteless.
Well, today I’m gonna make sure cybersecurity sticks to you as long as it needs to. Forget the napkins and your favourite sock – you’re gonna need some industrial-strength paper towels after reading through my list of the sexiest cybersecurity tips that I, together with my dear colleagues at Cybernews, have gathered.
It’s long. It’s hard. It’s superstrong.
And it can last for hundreds of years.
No, I’m not talking about a fun Friday through Sunday night. I’m talking about something even sexier: a secure password.
More specifically, I’m talking about a password that’s a bit different from those crazy formulas people have been recommending over the last decade or so. This is not a good password:
It’s not good because you definitely won’t remember it. In general, it’s also not stronger: a password like this is easy for a computer to crack, but hard for a human to remember.
Instead, do the opposite. Take a phrase you can remember and put it all together – and remember, if it’s longer, it’s truly better:
If it’s more memorable, that means you won’t have to write it down, email it to yourself, or any of those risky things people often do with confusing passwords.
Sure, you can go explore all the nooks and crannies of the world without having any kind of protection, but do you really want to run the risk of having your hard drive getting all red and itchy?
Probably not. That just ain’t sexy, buddy. Even worse, you can infect others with it.
Basic protection is so...basic, but you’d be surprised at how many people wander the internet without even having an antivirus program installed. That’s like [explicit] someone’s [explicit] while they [explicit] in your [explicit] with your own [explicit]! And that’s just crazy, right?
Antivirus programs, much like condoms, won’t give you 100% protection from absolutely everything, but they will help stop the biggest and most common dangers. It’s not just for when you’re browsing your Saturday night favs on the internet – it’s also great for scanning your local network or your desktop, including when someone puts their USB stick in your open port, if you know what I mean.
Even better, you can protect your whole computer and all your devices by making the entire machine encrypted. So, when your partner-for-the-night asks you: is that an encrypted hard drive or are you just happy to see me, you won’t have to choose.
You can simply answer “Yes!”
If you want to get into my nether regions, you just need these two things:
And by nether regions I mean my most sensitive accounts – if you catch my drift. And by catch my drift, I mean not just my banking and payment details, but also my sensitive images, videos, messages and personal data on my favourite websites.
Multifactor authentication, like the popular two-factor authentication, is based on something you know (like your password), and something you have (like your device). If someone ever gets my password, they’ll be in for a sucky surprise: it’s simply not enough to get in.
They’ll need to have both my username/password and my phone – without me knowing about it – in order to access my accounts. And, honestly, when’s the last time you went without your phone for more than a few minutes without missing it?
If you want to play hard to get – and actually be hard to get – you should set up multifactor authentication, like right now.
The best advice I have heard when I had the talk was: if it smells fishy, son, avoid it at all costs.
Get your mind out of the gutter folks – I’m simply talking about the strange emails and messages you get online. You see, the biggest weakness in cybersecurity is people. And, guess what, you are also a people.
You need to understand that while it can take a hacker roughly 600+ years (via a dictionary attack) or 58 septillion years (with a brute-force attack) to crack your password, it will be easier for them to simply get it from you. Maybe it’s written on your desk at work, or maybe you took one of those fun quizzes on Facebook that asked you for the coolest password ever.
For hackers, you’re the main target, because it’s easier to crack you than to do it the hard way. That’s why you should really avoid those fun quizzes on Facebook that ask for your mother’s maiden name (a common “forgot your password” question). And don’t click on a link in a strange, misspelt email, especially when you hover over the link and it goes to “kinkythingsforpirat3s.info” instead of the real website.
It’s not all that hard to do cybersecurity right. What I’ve given you above simply scratches the surface, but it really is enough to get you covered fundamentally. If you want more advanced techniques, there’s a veritable orgy of information all over the internet.
Just like your favourite activity, the more you practice cybersecurity, the better you’ll get, helping you reach further, last longer, and stay stronger and more secure everytime you go online.