Do Your Part—Engage in Cyber Hygiene

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Cyber crimes can be more alarming and can have a more devastating impact than even some physical crimes. Consulting firms have stated that cyber crimes are the fastest growing economic crimes today, with a 20 percent increase since 2014. As newer technologies take shape, especially around pervasive computing and the Internet of Things, security continues to be at the helm of concerns.

Cyber hygiene is the establishment and maintenance of an individual's online safety. It is the online analogue of personal hygiene, and encapsulates the daily routines, occasional checks, and general behaviors required to maintain a user's online "health" (security).

The cloud has opened up an amazing set of opportunities in data access and storage, but it has also opened a can of worms around security making it a hotbed for cyber criminals. Companies have to look at the security of the products they develop and broaden their scope of overall cyber hygiene—this includes practices and processes in data creation, collection, usage, and disposal.

Cyber hygiene is needed not only for organizations but also for individuals, especially given the digital overload we all face today. Even high-profile individuals, including the current President of the United States Donald Trump and former nominee Hillary Clinton, have been under the radar for not maintaining good security practices in their professional operations.  

Cyber hygiene is a quality effort where diligent users take educated steps including updating settings on devices, being mindful of what information is shared where and when, and how such information is used and ultimately discarded. These steps may be basic to some users, while they seem out of scope for people who are not digitally savvy.

There are ample tools and solutions to promote cyber hygiene, and some even have analogies that make it easy for the not-so-savvy users to understand it fairly well. One analogy describes how cyber hygiene is like dental hygiene, where it's not sufficient to just brush regularly, you also have to floss consistently. There are also best practices that the industry has provided, including practices suggested by governmental bodies, which enable organizations and users to decide which are relevant to them.

If we think we have already hit rock bottom when it comes to cyber crimes, we are certainly wrong. Predictions say the worst is yet to comewith an impact deeper than we think, targeting high-profile individuals, and more cyber crimes in volume as well. Taking the right steps now toward a more hygienic cyber world is certainly going to strengthen the digital revolution. Let’s be sure to do our part by focusing on cyber security at all levels.

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