Makerere University

Enter a keyword or two into the search box above and click search..

Cyber Hygiene

You are here

By Kyomuhendo Esther Diana

Cyber hygiene is often compared to personal hygiene, closely related to an individual maintaining health and wellbeing. Cyber hygiene can keep data clean, safe, well protected. This aid maintaining properly functioning devices by protecting them from outside attacks like malware. It also relates to practices and precautions taken to keep sensitive data organized, safe and secure from theft and any other cyber-attacks.

Now, CYBER HYGIENE in simple terms is the practices and steps users take to maintain a healthy system and improve online security. They are often part of the routine to ensure safety of identity and data and any other details that could be stolen and corrupted by thieves. It should be regularly conducted to reduce any chances of threats. Just a like a tooth brush should be changed in two months so should the passwords and all kinds of encryption.

Cyber hygiene ensures that computers and software run at peak efficiency since there is maintenance quite a number of times. Files become fragmented and programs outdated increasing the risk of vulnerabilities. Routines that include maintenance are most likely to spot many of these issues early enough to prevent from occurring. A system that is well maintained is less vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.

Security is the most important reason to incorporate cyber hygiene routines in your monthly plans. Hackers, identity thieves, advanced viruses and intelligent malware are hostile threats. While predicting threats can be challenging, preparing and preventing them becomes feasible with constant cyber hygiene practices.

School cyber related property have elements in need of cyber hygiene. For example, all hardware like computers, phones and connected devices, software programs, and online applications (MUELE, AIMS) used should be included in a regular, ongoing maintenance program. Each of these systems have specific vulnerabilities that may lead to different problems.

Some of these problems include;

  • Loss of data through data leakage (hard drives and online cloud storage that isn’t backed up or maintained is vulnerable to hacking, corruption, and other problems that could result in loss of information).
  • Misplaced data: information could be misplaced and lost.
  • Security breach; these include phishing, hacking, malware, spam, viruses and many more other threats.
  • Out of date software: software applications should be updated regularly, ensuring that the latest security patches and most current versions are used across campus. Out of date software is very prone to cyber-attacks.
  • Older security software: antivirus software and other security software must be updated to keep pace with the ever-changing threat landscape. Outdated software can’t protect the college against latest threats.

Steps To Follow When Carrying Out Cyber Hygiene;

  • Document all current equipment and programs. All hardware, software and online applications in the computer labs. Printers, fax machines and mobile devices.
  • Analyze the list of equipment and programs. After creating a comprehensive list of all cyber facing components, you can begin to scrutinize the list and find vulnerabilities. Unused components should be wiped and disposed off properly. Software and apps that are not current should be updated and all user passwords should be changed. If programs are not regularly used, they should be properly uninstalled. Some programs that have quite similar purpose, one should be made primary and the other used as backup or deleted.
  • Create a common cyber hygiene policy. The newly clarified network of devices and programs will need a common set of practices to maintain cyber hygiene. If there are multiple users, these practices should be documented into a set policy to be followed by all who have access to the network. E.g., password changes, software updates, hardware updates, manage new installs, limit users, backup data, employ a cyber security framework and up-to-date anti-virus software.
NoteOnce a policy is created, the routine for each item should be set to appropriate time frames. For example, changing passwords every month, check for updates every week. Doing this will ensure continued cyber hygiene of the entire network of hardware and software.