AMU Cyber & AI Defense

Cybersecurity and New Best Practices for the Consumer

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By Mr. Bryan Bell
Faculty Member, School of STEM at American Military University

So where do we begin?

With all the breaches and compromises in the news, cybersecurity best practices must be emphasized more than ever. So what are they? How does the typical home user know what to use or do…for that matter? Most large businesses have the adequate infrastructure, personnel and knowledge to implement basic cybersecurity, but for the small business or home consumer, this is lacking.

Traditional Best Practices

For many of us, traditional best practices for the home have been heard, read or discussed in one shape or form over the years. A great place to start for the consumer is with the US Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

For most of us, the basics are an essential place to start:

  • Install a reputable full security suite with antivirus, malware, firewall, and privacy protection
  • Keep your antivirus, operating system and applications up to date
  • Set your browser to the highest security settings
  • Use a hardware firewall
  • Use hard to guess passwords and use different passwords for all sites
  • Don’t open unknown email attachments
  • Always go directly to financial websites instead of opening through email
  • Backup your data

New Best Practices

Here are some additional tips that can really enhance security for the consumer. These go beyond the normal tips that are practiced and could ultimately make a difference.

Use a secure DNS

DNS maps the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to the IP Address. Using a secure DNS can help to protect against phishing and malware sites. OpenDNS offers a free service for home use with built-in fraud and phishing protection.

Sandbox the browser

Using a program to sandbox the browser can keep malware contained and separated from contaminating the operating system. These programs operate in isolation and keeps malware from making permanent changes. Sandboxie is a simple program that can greatly enhance security for the home user in this category.

Use a separate malware program

A separate malware program can serve as a second check for malware, Trojans and unwanted programs. One of the best of breed and offered as a free check (not with active protection – unless purchased) is Malwarebytes.

These 3 additional steps augmented with the traditional steps of antivirus can make the Internet and all its information a much safer place for consumers.

The Simple Things

Cybersecurity is not hard, but there are certain common sense things that must be done to enhance our protection and keep us safe. In the always connected world of the Internet, safety begins with our own personal mobile devices and computers. Let’s work together to spread the basics of best practice and maybe even some new tips!!! Safe surfing 🙂

 

About the Author

Bryan Bell, MBA, MSIT (IA), CISSP is an Adjunct Professor for Information Technology and Cybersecurity at American Military University. In addition to his love of education, he is the lead security engineer within the Chief Information Security Office at USAID, and serves as a Lieutenant Colonel (Promotable) in the United States Army Reserve. You may contact him at: bryan.bell93@mycampus.apus.edu.

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