Cybersecurity for beginners

Cybersecurity for beginners: How to use the Internet safely

As technology becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives, it’s important for everyone to understand the basics of cybersecurity to protect themselves from potential threats. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into the online world or looking to enhance your digital security knowledge, here’s an overview of essential cybersecurity concepts and practices for beginners.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks and programs from cyberattacks. These attacks are usually aimed at accessing, changing or destroying sensitive information; forcing money from users; or interrupting business processes. Cyberattacks can impact both individuals and organizations.

Importance of cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are on the rise, with fraud being the most common type. According to a 2023 Equifax survey, 26 per cent of respondents had been a victim of fraud or identity theft. Understanding cybersecurity is vital to protecting personal information, financial assets and digital identities. Cyberattacks can lead to financial loss, reputation damage and even legal consequences. By understanding cybersecurity and implementing best practices, individuals can reduce these risks and enjoy a safer online experience.

Basic cybersecurity concepts

Password Security: Strong, unique passwords are the best way to protect your online accounts from cybercriminals. Avoid using easily guessable passwords and consider using password managers to securely store and manage passwords.

Software Updates: Regularly update your operating system, antivirus software and applications to patch weaknesses where cybercriminals might be able to gain access.

Phishing Awareness: Be cautious of emails, messages or calls requesting personal or financial information. Phishing scams often pretend to be businesses or government agencies and trick users into providing sensitive information.

Secure Wi-Fi Practices: Secure your home Wi-Fi network with a strong password and encryption to prevent unwanted access. Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive activities like online banking or shopping.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA whenever possible to add an extra layer of security to your online accounts. This typically involves receiving a one-time code through text message or email in addition to entering your password.

How to use the Internet safely

Exercise Caution: Don’t click on suspicious links, download attachments from unknown sources, or visit untrustworthy websites. These can lead to malware infections or phishing attempts.

Verify Websites: Before entering personal or financial information on a website, ensure it’s secure by checking for HTTPS in the URL and a padlock icon in the address bar.

Privacy Settings: Review and adjust the privacy settings on social media accounts and other online platforms to control and limit who can see your personal information.

Data Backup: Regularly back up important files and documents to an external hard drive, cloud storage service or secure backup solution. This ensures that data can be restored in the event of a cyberattack, hardware failure, or accidental deletion.

Continuous Learning: Cybersecurity is evolving, and staying informed about emerging threats and best practices is essential. Take advantage of free online resources and courses to keep your digital literacy skills sharp.

ABC Connect for Learning is a digital literacy program that offers free resources to those looking to improve their digital skills. Whether you’re just getting started with the Internet or looking to learn about new technology, ABC Connect for Learning offers something for everyone. Visit abcconnectforlearning.ca for more information.