Skip to content

Welcome to Digital Hygiene

How NOT to become a victim of cybercrime? 

What is Digital Hygiene?

Digital hygiene is a set of guidelines to help people keep their digital life "healthy".

Digital hygiene (also dubbed as cyber hygiene) is a set of guidelines and best practices to help people keep their digital life “healthy”. As much as regular hygiene helps you to stay safe and healthy, digital hygiene helps to achieve the same in your digital life.

Digitalization or deployment of various digital solutions has become critical in our daily business and private lives. Our world has never been more technology centric. Especially this year as more and more brick-and-mortar businesses and solutions have moved online. And the sheer volume of transactions taking place online is staggering. This digital acceleration hasn’t been without it’s risks.

The number (and complexity) of cyber attacks is on unprecedented rise.

With the rise in new digital services and solutions there has also been a significant rise in number of individuals (so called “bad actors”) who are actively looking for ways to breach the security features set in place to protect the users. Here’s a worrisome number to keep in mind – the number of various cyber attacks has risen up to 90% in the current year alone.

Interestingly, it takes just a fraction of a second to click on an unsecure link but the potential loss derived from this action can have devastating effects for both companies and individuals. It isn’t just lack of digital competency or general ability to foresee potential threats as people are prone to make mistakes and not all threats can be foreseen.

This brings us to good digital hygiene.

While there are specific steps to take to decrease the risk of becoming a victim of cyber crime, it is more important to understand the general principles and implement them into your daily routine. Also, it’s important to understand that digital hygiene is a dynamic concept – as cyber threats develop and become more complex, so does the need for digital security policies.

Most important digital hygiene concept: your data is (very) valuable.

There’s a popular misconception among a startling number of users that their data (or their access to data) is not important. For example, someone uses just private email and limited social media, doesn’t use digital solutions for business purposes, doesn’t bank or shop online, etc. For a bad actor, every piece of information is important and can potentially be used as a stepping stone to gain access to more information.

Think of a scenario where someone wants to add you as a contact in Facebook or LinkedIn as he/she seems to work for a partner company. While you might be suspicious of this kind of request you might be tricked into accepting if you see that some of your colleagues are already connected to said person’s account. Keep in mind, even small and seemingly insignificant steps can help bad actors gain further access and move them closer to achieving their goals.

Digital Hygiene cheat sheet

12 commandments for A more secure digital life

1. KEEP YOUR SOFTWARE UP-TO-DATE

This includes all software, starting from your operating system (Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc) to applications (office suites), browsers (Chrome, Firefox) and plug-ins, extensions, etc. Remove any unused software.

2. KEEP YOUR ANTIVIRUS UP-TO-DATE AND LIVE SCAN ON

Make sure to install an adequate antivirus and anti-malware software. Also, make sure it's always up-to-date and the "live scan" feature is enabled.

3. MANAGE YOUR FIREWALL

Make sure your firewall software is installed and up to date. Also, it is highly advisable to manually check all rules (and edit/remove if necessary) in your firewall. NB! Having a firewall on network level doesn't mean you should not have a firewall on device level as well.

4. USE STRONG PASSWORDS

Do NOT use dictionary words or passwords based on keys location on the keyboard (QWERTY, etc). Include uppercase letters, numbers and symbols. Use different passwords for different places.

5. USE PASSWORD MANAGER

Password managers make it easier to use STRONG and UNIQUE passwords in different websites. Both, free and commercial, options are available. Use very strong password for your password manager.

6. USE TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION (2FA)

Use of two-factor or multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security requiring not only something you know (password) but also something you have (mobile phone, for example).

7. keep your mailbox and device(s) secure and clean

Take extra steps to keep your mailbox tidy and secure. Compromised mailbox can authorize access to your accounts on other websites, social media, etc. SECURE and TIDY are the keywords here.

8. DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE ONLY FROM LEGITIMATE SOURCES

Do NOT download and install any games or software from dubious sources. This includes torrent downloads, "cracked" software downloads, etc. Most commercial software packages have free and reputable alternatives.

9. BACKUP often AND ENCRYPT

Make backups and make them often. Also, make sure to secure your backups - this includes encrypting your data and securing the physical devices like USB sticks or removable hard drives.

10. LIMIT YOUR DIGITAL & SOCIAL FOOTPRINT

Social networks are fun but you should be aware that they broadcast a wide array of information about you, your colleagues and your organization to anyone, including bad actors. Limit the information available about you online, especially to people you do not know.

11. BE AWARE OF ANY PHISHING ATTEMPTS

It can be anything, email or dm from a bank, email service provider, mobile phone company, etc - please take time and consider if the request is legitimate. Also, double check all the links and make sure they are correct. https://yourbank.xyz.com is not https://yourbank.com

12. don't be an easy target

Develop a "security first" mindset. Stay cautious and keep yourself up-to-date in the world of cyber security. Heed the advice of security guidelines and best practices.

news from european cybercrime centre (ec3)

"Digital Hygiene" book is coming soon.