The recent news coverage of the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack has many businesses, both large and small, rethinking their cybersecurity posture, but does it have you thinking about your safety while online (or at work)? Here are some easy, simple steps that you can take to protect yourself while you are away from the office.

Use Strong Passwords with a Password Manager

We all know how important it is to have a strong password. Every time you create a new password for a digital service, or have to change your password, you have complexity requirements. It must be more than 12
characters, have a capital, number, and special character. These requirements also often make them hard to remember. There is a better way, however. There are many password managers online, both free and paid, online and offline. Most major browsers also have one built in, and many of these can generate a secure password for you. Bitwarden and LastPass are good places to start when comparing features and price.

Change Your DNS to Block Ads and Malware

While many ads online are no more nefarious than TV or print ads, there are some ads that are nothing more than delivery vehicles for malware. This makes them not only an annoying distraction, but dangerous as well.
A quick fix is to change your DNS server to one that filters out known bad domains so that you are never served the ad in the first place. is a good place to start for adblocking DNS servers.

Use an In-Browser Ad Blocker

While DNS ad-blocking can be a big help, it will not block every single ad out there. For even more ad-blocking protection, consider using an in-browser ad-blocker. Like password managers, there are many options to choose from, both free and paid. uBlock Origin, Adblock Plus, and Ghostery are some well-known examples.

(Editor’s Note: Also good resources: the Brave browser and DuckDuckGo for search.)

Keep Backups of Important Files

If the worst does happen and your computer is damaged or infected, backups will be your lifeline. Make copies of your important documents and save them offline on a USB hard drive. You can get a 2TB USB thumb
drive for around $50 dollars, and this will probably be more size that you will need. If possible, keep two separate copies of your files, one with an online storage provider such as Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google
Drive, and one copy offline. Also consider keeping a full offline backup of your computer and its software using a computer backup product such as Macrium Reflect (https://www.macrium.com/reflectfree)

Using these simple tips, you can start your journey to a more secure internet browsing experience.