Cybersecurity for Beginners


Cybersecurity is an increasingly important issue, for both individuals and businesses. Some of the biggest breaches and mega-breaches in 2018 included Marriott, which affected 339 million customers; British Airways, which impacted 380 thousand customers; and Facebook, which revealed the data from 29 million users.  

 Now more than ever it’s important to combat these hacks, abuses, leaks, and bugs and ensure that we work on improving our security practices.

 With that in mind, there’s no better time for an introduction to cybersecurity!

 If you’re one of the lucky ones and haven’t had any privacy issues with your company’s electronic devices, you might be wondering, “Why is cybersecurity important?” 

 Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before you, someone you know, your business or a company that stores your private data will have a network security issue. 


 What exactly is cybersecurity?

It has to do with protecting technology—this means your devices, programs, networks, and any electronic data—from unlawful access or destruction. 

 It’s also called information technology security. Some of the biggest security risks involve IoT (internet of things) and mobile devices (basically, devices that listen to you or are wearable). There is a new documentary out on Netflix called The Great Hack, which covers the power of data.

 Nowadays we’re hearing a lot about the inherent challenges with IoT; however, professionals like James Davis, Interim Associate Chair of Supply Chain and Information Systems / Associate Professor of Information Systems at Iowa State University, understand that these safety issues have existed since computers first appeared on the scene. The experts are now using systems like Supply Chain Risk to improve global network security. 


Cybersecurity bootcamps

Would you believe that there are cybersecurity bootcamps?  These are comprehensive crash courses that explain how systems like Supply Chain Risk can improve the global network. What’s more, cybersecurity bootcamps highlight relevant job openings and coach participants on how to land the cyber security job that’s right for them. 


How does cybersecurity work?

There are several tools at your disposal to ensure that your data is protected. This includes:

  •     Password management
  •     Software updates
  •     Encryption
  •     Backups
  •     Firewalls
  •     Antivirus protection

 All of these cybersecurity tools work to keep your data safe if you lose your device, both personal or professional, or if it gets hacked or stolen. 


Password protection

If your device has a timeout feature, you’ll need a password to activate it again. But before you decide on a password, consider these tips:

  •     Choose a phrase (6 words) that’s easy to remember
  •     Use different passwords for different sites
  •     From time to time, consider improving passwords
  •     Look into a two-step validation process

Having trouble coming up with clever passwords? How about a line from your favorite poem, song, or movie? 

If you’re worried you won’t remember your passwords, you should investigate using a password manager, like LastPass or 1Password. However, keep in mind that if other people can access your computer files, they can learn your passwords, too.   

 Even if you come up with the most obscure password ever, you still might be inclined to play it extra safe and use a two-step confirmation process. 

 This means that after you log onto a site, you’ll receive a code (via text) to plug in along with your password. The more recent or updated sites may use fingerprint or facial identification. 

If you have a router (a cable box that funnels internet data between computer networks), it probably comes with an already established administrative password. As soon as you can, change the password to something only you would know. 


Software updates 

It’s no surprise that there are new versions of software coming out all the time. It’s important to always install the most up-to-date software on your devices so you will have optimal function and adequate security (such as antivirus protection). 



Encryption sounds difficult, but it’s actually super simple to activate. Check to see if your device has an encryption option and if it does, turn it on and leave it be! 

You can use encryption on your home router, too. There’s an option called WPA2 that’s the most secure wireless security available. If you want to deter others from connecting to your wireless network, this is the way to go. 



With regular backups, you don’t have to worry about losing data if any of your devices are lost or stolen. For extra peace of mind, consider purchasing additional cloud storage space (up to $10 per month).

  •     iPhones: back up through iTunes or to Apple iCloud
  •     Androids: back up to Google Drive 



Most devices, even routers, have built-in firewalls. Take the time to confirm that they are enabled. 


Other precautions

  •     Download apps from main app stores only
  •     Avoid public Wi Fi networks unless you have a VPN
  •     Consider browser add-ons 
  •     Disable third-party cookies
  •     Consult the blog, “Krebs on Security,” written by an investigative journalist
  •     Read the online newsletter, SANS Newsbits, edited by cybersecurity professionals


Security for all

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been online all your life or if you’re new to the experience, we all need an introduction or refresher on cybersecurity. Knowledge is power and, in this case, it also means safety and security for all.