Cyber Hygiene ... What Is It? And 5 Things to Know About It

Cyber Security
Online identity
Jim Reed, Executive Vice President, Commercial Banking
Person working at computer in office

More and more often the term cyber hygiene shows up in technology blogs and business articles. But what does it mean? And why should you care? If the term is new to you, or makes you feel squeamish, here are five things to know:

  1. What it isn't: Cyber hygiene makes some people think of personal cleanliness. Closer to the mark is the idea of regularly sanitizing your keyboard with those little alcohol swipes. Actually, it's neither.

  2. What it is: Cyber hygiene is the term used for a protective routine to keep your personal and financial information secure when using your computer or mobile device. Just as good dental hygiene refers to flossing and brushing regularly for oral health, good cyber hygiene means following sound daily practices for the health and security of your information online. 
     It includes, but is not limited to, regularly updating your browser software, installing and maintaining security software, choosing strong passwords, never sharing passwords, and avoiding public Wi-Fi for online banking and other financial transactions. The idea is to lock out vandals and thieves.

  3. Who needs it: Businesses and individuals both benefit from good cyber hygiene. Typically, cyber security refers to the umbrella of policies, practices and employee training a business undertakes to protect its systems and data.
    By comparison, cyber hygiene refers more to the habits of individuals at work and on their personal devices. So a business’ cyber security plan should include employee training and protocols to ensure its system users employ safe and secure practices daily.

  4. Where it comes from: This is not the first time the tech industry has borrowed from the realm of health and biology. Consider the word virus, now commonly used to refer to a contagion anyone with a computer or mobile device should look out for. 
    Today, viruses are just one reason we need to be diligent about cyber hygiene, lest our computer be infected. One can only wonder what terms will enter the tech vernacular next.

  5. How to apply it: As you look to improve your cyber hygiene on the job and in your personal life, check out these tips on Internet and Password Safety.