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Cybersecurity for Beginners: 5 Ways to Get Started
Jessica Mikell
Jessica Mikell

Contributing Author @ Batten

You’ve probably heard about cybersecurity. Whether on a news program, cautioning you to start taking the security of your online life more seriously, or as part of a new growing field of employment, it’s a word that gets thrown around a lot. But what does it mean? How can the average person become more cyber-aware?

What is Cybersecurity?

Let’s start with the basics. Consider how much sensitive personal information you store on your own devices or even someone else’s. Between your phone, your tablet, your personal computer, and your work computer, you probably keep most, if not all, of your important information online. That makes your information vulnerable to hackers. 

The United State’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency defines cybersecurity as, “The art of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.”

It might seem easier to just avoid keeping your sensitive information off your devices and off the internet. That’s a premature reaction since most of the world expects information to be sent via the internet. But that’s where cybersecurity comes in. Just like you wouldn’t leave the door to your home or car unlocked, don’t let your information sit out in the open. Use cybersecurity. It’s easier than you think, and there are options at a variety of price points to help you get started. 

5 Steps for Personal Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is important. We hear that all the time. But actually, taking control of our cyber awareness? Overwhelming. The good news is that it’s not as complicated as it seems. You don’t need to be a computer expert to use cybersecurity best practices. You can start today with our five steps for better cybersecurity. 

Step 1 – Use a Password Manager

Having a secure password for each and every one of your accounts is online safety 101, but most of us don’t do it. Who could possibly remember all those passwords? That’s where a password manager comes in. A password manager saves all of your passwords for you in a secure database.

A password manager can even generate super secure passwords for you, so you don’t have to try and come up with a string of characters you may or may not remember in ten minutes. 

Dashlane is a great password manager that’s easy to install, set up, and use to keep all of your passwords in one place. Plus, it has a VPN feature you can take advantage of to keep your browsing safe, especially in public locations. 

Step 2 – Switch to a Private Browser

You know when you buy one toaster, and then next thing you know, you see ads for toasters everywhere? That’s because when you use a regular browser, you are giving the browser permission to track every move you make online. 

A private browser, sometimes called ‘incognito mode’ provides an extra layer of security for you. Private browsing gives up less of your private data than using a regular browser does. It doesn’t make you completely anonymous, but it gets you part of the way there. Switching over is easy and can be done in minutes. Don’t forget to change all of your devices. 

If your default browser is Chrome, you might want to consider Brave as a private browser option. Brave is a privacy-focused browser, which automatically blocks online advertisements and website trackers in its default settings, so you can feel more protected than ever from third-party cookies. 

Step 3 – Utilize Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication puts an additional step to your sign-in process. After you enter your usual credentials, secondary proof is required before you can access your account. This secondary proof can be a text message with a code, or come through an app you can add to your phone. 

Your personal cybersecurity gets a boost when you add two-factor authentication to your arsenal. There are many apps or programs you can use, including free ones, to make this part of your regular cyber awareness. 

Step 4 – Get a VPN

Every device that accesses the internet requires what’s called a network connection. Not all network connections are created equal. Using a public network connection leaves you vulnerable to cyber-attacks and scams. With a VPN, you can access any public network as if it was a private network. 

VPN stands for virtual private network. Private networks are much safer than public networks. When you use a VPN you get secure encryption and secure data transfer. VPNs have become much more accessible to the general public in recent years and can be easily purchased at a low price. 

A good rule of thumb is to use a VPN when you are away from your private home network. Browsing the internet at an airport, coffee shop, or abroad are all good use cases for a VPN. Additionally, if you are working remotely for your company, connecting to the VPN will help you protect confidential and private data. Plus, you can access region-specific (looking at you Netflix) content anywhere in the world. 

Step 5 – Install Anti-Virus Protection and a Firewall 

Most of the steps prior to this one are intended to protect your information from nefarious schemes, but this last one does all that and more. Installing anti-virus protection and a firewall protects both your hardware (your device) and software. 

Anti-virus protection and firewalls can be purchased and installed easily, so they can mitigate internal and external threats to your cyber security. 

Dashlane: Family Password Manager
Dashlane: Family Password Manager
$89.99 / yearly
view on dashlane
Nord VPN
Nord VPN
$59.00 / yearly
buy on nord

Protect Yourself with Personal Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity sounds hard, complicated, and scary, but we have selected solutions that are accessible to everyone. With a few simple steps, you are well on your way to better personal cybersecurity. By implementing a password manager, private browsing, two-factor authentication, and getting a VPN, anti-virus protection, and a firewall, you will be well protected against threats. 

Want to learn more about cyber awareness? Listen to our newest episode of Batten Down Dialogues to learn more about steps you can take to protect your cyber life.