Growing up, you probably learned some basic, common sense rules to live by–things like: look both ways before crossing the street, don’t touch the hot burner on the stove and never take candy from a stranger. As we continue our series about getting back to the basics of online security and privacy, we’ll discuss how being “web wise” is similar to our everyday common sense rules.

Stay current
We’ve all heard that knowledge is power, but in the cybersecurity world, knowledge is also one of our best defenses. Check trusted websites to keep pace with new ways to stay safe online and share what you learn with friends, family and colleagues to encourage them to be web wise, too. Here’s an easy place to start: Once you get familiar with that content, consider branching out to other cybersecurity news sources.

Think before you act
This ties closely to what we discussed in our previous “Connect with Care” and “Phishing” stories. This installment in the series stresses “think before you act” again because it is such a key part of always staying safe and secure online. Be wary of communications that offer something that sounds too good to be true, ask for any kind of personal information or implore you to act immediately (either with threats or with time-sensitive deals).

Back it up
Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making electronic copies and safely storing them. Don’t learn your lesson the hard way by losing an important file you saved on your laptop because of that unfortunate coffee spill, or that important school paper that vanished because it only lived on that tiny thumb drive you misplaced. It’s unwise to only have one copy of something important.

For critical information, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) recommends using the Rule of 3-2-1:

  • 3: Keep three copies of any important file (one primary and two backups)
  • 2: Keep the files on two different types of storage (to protect against different types of hazards)
  • 1: Store one copy offsite (or in the cloud)

This may be overkill for general computer users, but it’s a good idea to at least back up important information to a trusted, secure cloud storage service, such as Microsoft’s OneDrive or Apple’s iCloud Drive. These services keep backed up versions offsite (in the cloud), and you can sync the backed up files to multiple devices, if you desire, potentially meeting all the requirements of the Rule of 3-2-1. For more information, check out US-CERT’s Data Backup Options. The information goes in-depth on the pros and cons of the various backup options available.

Be sure to keep following our online security and privacy stories. Next time, we’ll discuss “being a good online citizen.”