The United States government isn’t exactly known for its rapid embrace of technology, but they sure are trying.
It’s not an easy job; especially when you consider sites like the U.S. State Department, which are targeted by thousands of hacking attempts every day.
It’s for just this reason that many individual branches of the government work with specialty cybersecurity companies. For example, SecureStrux is a cybersecurity company that works with the Department of Defense, which means they’re hypersensitive to DoD-specific cybersecurity needs.
While you likely don’t have your own cybersecurity firm protecting your network, there are a few things you can learn from how the government protects theirs.
1. Implement Multiple Layers of Security
Multiple layers of security are essential for comprehensive network protection in the 21st century.
Governmental entities achieve this through various ways, including advanced data encryption, user authentication, physical security and more. Although some tech-savvy hobbyists utilize some of these sophisticated measures, most of them are overkill for the average computer user.
As a consumer, firewalls and antivirus programs comprise your first line of defense against potential hackers.
There are free and paid options available – all of which offer advantages and disadvantages – so take some time to do your research before downloading and installing a specific program.
2. Limit Individual Access to Sensitive or Confidential Info
We spend a lot of time protecting our networks from outside threats, but this leaves us exposed to threats that originate from the inside.
If you’re a small business owner, this could mean unauthorized system access by a disgruntled employee or even a faulty server installation by an engineer. While the average consumer faces a much smaller risk, acquaintances, friends and family members have all been known to leak information – either purposefully or accidentally.
This situation is easily avoided by limiting access to your sensitive or confidential information. Keeping this information to yourself makes the potential of an inside leak nearly impossible. If a friend or family member does have access to a system or drive that contains sensitive files, consider protecting this data with a strong password or encryption.
3. Change Your Passwords Frequently
Don’t forget to change your passwords frequently for maximum effectiveness. According to prominent cybersecurity experts, “every email address and password combination going back about 10 years, on every major public website has been leaked and circulated.”
This is troubling news, but the risk is mitigated by changing your password on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
Take care not to re-use passwords between websites. If one site happens to leak your login credentials, you can bet that hackers will try to input this information into other sites.
Those who use the same password for every login could quickly find all of their profiles are compromised.
4. Remove Personal Information Before Disposal
While it’s important to dispose of your electronics through the proper means, it’s equally important to remove any personal or confidential information before doing so. Depending on the facility, some computers might be tested and stripped down for any working parts. Any data remaining on the hard drives could easily fall into the wrong hands.
Many of us hand our old electronics down to friends or family members. This is a kind and thoughtful act, but it’s still important to wipe the hard drive clean of your personal data. Such information is easily leaked – even without malicious intent – by novice users and those who fall prey to computer viruses or malware.
Protecting Our Cyber Landscape On All Fronts
Cybersecurity is so crucial that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has even implemented a standardized approach to combating hackers on the highest possible level.
While there’s no such thing as a system that is 100 percent secure, the U.S. government employs many tools – some of which are also available to consumers – to safeguard our digital assets now and in the future.