If you feel like protecting your online privacy is just as exhausting as having another part-time job, you’re not alone.
Between creating and remembering different passwords, to managing your mobile app permissions, it’s getting harder everyday just to keep up with hackers and information-stealing companies in our digital world.
Now just imagine what it’s like to be an IT professional protecting the sensitive information of large companies and tons of consumers around the clock. Yikes!
IT professionals know what kind of nefarious activity takes place in the darkest corners of the internet—and they also know a thing or two about how to ward off malicious threats and protect your private information, too.
Today we’re going to talk about our favorite easy-to-use cybersecurity tools that are strong enough for professional use and simple enough for those of us with day jobs outside the IT world.
Leave it to the tech giant that’s no stranger to malicious activity to create EMET, or the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit.
This freeware security kit beefs up your Windows security preferences by letting you protect commonly targeted programs such as Adobe Reader, Microsoft Office, and the problematic Java plug-in from casual, less-than-informed users.
See, it’s not that these programs lack security measures, it’s that oftentimes the cost of defense is more than users are willing to pay in the way of performance. An unsuspecting roommate or coworker may disable these safety protocols to speed up load time and leave your computer or network vulnerable.
EMET finds these vulnerabilities and walls them up from the inside by letting you master the defenses of all your apps and programs. Hackers not used to these common paths being obstructed will either have to work really hard to get in, or simply move on to easier prey.
Privileged Identity Management (PIM) tools
Do you trust too many privileged users with your most valuable information?
“Shared accounts pose almost the same risk regardless of whether it’s a shared DBA [database administrator] account giving access to a database, or an admin accessing a Cisco router, or a shared-account e-mail admin accessing an Exchange server.”
Manage all of these different credentials with a PIM product that will constantly change your passwords for in-house or cloud workspaces and platforms. This will lock out all hackers simply stealing passwords as they’ll be rendered useless as soon as your PIM refreshes all the passwords again.
PIMs will even help you monitor any and all programmatic changes that occur to your network. You’ll know exactly which machines made/are making changes using administrative access.
Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools
These tools monitor all your endpoint and network events and collect the intel in a centralized database. This data will be continuously investigated and analyzed for compromises, reducing the amount of time between a breach being reported and corrected.
Remember, data breaches are never really about the short con; once inside, hackers “study their victim’s internal network, carefully extend their foothold and then begin mining the valuable data they find for months, if not years, before being detected — usually by accident.”
Look for active monitoring tools that also integrate with your other security settings, such as firewalls, SIEMS, etc.
Hackers take full advantage of the holes in your network or computer security once they’re identified, which is the main reason you always need to complete those (sometimes annoying) system or software updates.
Instead of waiting for security patches for your operating system and applications to be released (hello, big window of vulnerability, here!), employ a patch management tool to scan and download these patches and codes for you.
Quality patch management tools will even test out these new patches to make sure they’re legit.
Keeping bugs and known holes patched up will ensure stability and less threats to your network and devices.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
You can set up a VPN in your home office while you’re away from the company high-rise downtown, or in your hotel room while you’re traveling, and still enjoy the safety of a truly private and secure company network.
Here’s how it works:
- When a user wants to log into the company network, they connect to any public Internet Service Provider (ISP).
- They initiate a VPN connection to the company VPN server via a VPN client installed on the remote user’s device.
- Once the connection is established, the user can communicate with the internal company systems just as if it were a local host.
It’s easy to see why hackers are not into VPNs so you have that going for you, too.
Second Opinion Scanners
Everyone knows they have to install some version of antivirus software on their devices for protection. Most people are surprised to learn that IT professionals already know that this isn’t enough anymore.
Thanks to the advent of second opinion scanners, we now know that typical antivirus software has been missing quite a lot.
See, different tools scan for different red flags; some may look for viruses, others may focus on rootkit detection. If you don’t have a scanner that seeks a variety of attacks, you’re like a sitting duck in shark-infested water.
Hackers well-versed in tricks that fool commercial security software may have already infected your computer without your scanners ever detecting them. Kind of a big issue, right?
Whole/Full Disk Encryption
If a hacker does manage to get in, don’t make your personal information easy for them to grab. Next level computer professionals don’t take encryption lightly, and neither should you.
You can choose to only encrypt certain sensitive files, like your expenses or medical files, or you can go the preferred route and choose whole/full disk encryption.
This option encrypts everything on your disk drive, including the OS, external and USB-connected drives, and temporary files you probably don’t even know exist.
“Because everything is encrypted, including the operating system, you have to first ‘unlock’ the encrypted drive with your personal passphrase before you can even start or boot up your computer.”
This is another layer of protection against malicious attacks that even works if the disk drive is transferred to another computer. You can’t get much better than that.
Ron Woerner, director of CyberSecurity Studies at Bellevue University, may believe the best cybersecurity tool isn’t on this list, but in your head. As he told Network World:
“There are certain things all network, IT, and security professionals should have in their toolbag. The most important is knowledge; i.e., where to learn more about a particular topic, technique, or tool. It’s impossible to know everything; so focus on where to get quality instruction and information.”
Stay in the loop with blogs and publications that value your privacy and inform you when your privacy is being sold, like the Just10 blog 🙂
Any of the tools on our list will help protect your information. The best cybersecurity tools will not only be able to monitor for threats and vulnerabilities, but they’ll even know how to respond to handle these situations before too much of your secure information becomes compromised.