Learn how to manage your personal cybersecurity over time, regularly follow and diversify your protection measures, and finally evaluate your investments in personal cybersecurity tools, to make sure they are worth it.
Note: this guide is to be coupled with immediate actions. Make sure you do something about it.
Table of Contents
- Protection horizon as the first cybersecurity criteria
- Diversification of Cybersecurity Tools: Finding the Right Balance
- Assessing Cybersecurity Investments: Three Criteria for Success
- Monitoring Your Cybersecurity Progress: Tools and Techniques
- Guarantees and Considerations for Cybersecurity Customers
- Bonus Part: Frequently Asked Questions
In the previous part of this guide explaining why and how to protect yourself against cyber threats, I explained the importance of proactively managing your cybersecurity.
I discussed defining objectives, implementing a personal cybersecurity strategy, and the key role of taking action to make your plan happen.
Now, let’s go deeper. Practically, where do your start? And how to adapt your cybersecurity measures to your needs?
I will do my best to give you more clarity. But because each person has their own goals regarding their online protection, the cybersecurity strategy must be adapted to each of them.
You don’t protect yourself the same way if you suddenly gained mediatic exposure, are building a website for your online business, or just want to keep your family safe over time.
So, what solution for your personal cybersecurity? Let’s go.
Protection horizon as the first cybersecurity criteria
Protection horizons are crucial in developing a robust cybersecurity strategy. Basically, it means considering your protection over time.
Short-term protection ensures that you’re safe from immediate threats.
Mid-term protection focuses on evolving with the ever-changing cyber landscape to secure your future.
Long-term protection aims at sustainable and adaptive measures that keep you safe for years to come.
By addressing all three horizons, you’ll gain peace of mind knowing you’re fully protected. This guide will help you to see how your regular cybersecurity efforts can tackle each horizon.
Maslow’s Pyramid applied to cybersecurity
You probably know Maslow’s Pyramid. Even if it has its limitations, applying it to cybersecurity helps to prioritize different aspects of personal cybersecurity based on their importance and urgency.
Here’s a proposed cybersecurity approach with a balanced allocation of efforts that aims at achieving a robust security posture.
Other prioritizations can be done. Higher levels of protection will make you secure but make your life harder, so you must be sure you have a good reason to do it. So, let’s see what it looks like.
Level 1 – Physiological Needs: Basic Cyber Hygiene (40%)
These are the fundamental practices that every individual should follow to maintain a minimum level of security.
If you are not there yet, make this your priority. I cannot insist more, people.
- Password management: Use strong, unique passwords, consider a password manager, and activate two-factor authentication (2FA) on your most important online accounts.
- Regular software updates: Keep your operating system, applications, and firmware up-to-date.
- Antivirus and anti-malware protection: Install reliable security software on all devices.
Level 2 – Safety Needs: Advanced Security Measures (25%)
Once basic cyber hygiene is in place, focus on additional security measures to further protect your digital life.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA on all accounts that support it.
- Firewall protection: Use a hardware or software firewall to protect your network.
- VPN: Utilize a VPN to encrypt your internet connection and protect your privacy.
PS: Yes, you can already use a VPN from level one. But when it comes to optimizing its use or its privacy settings, well, my advice is to start fixing your passwords first.
Level 3 – Social Needs: Digital Privacy and Communication Security (15%)
After ensuring your devices and networks are secure, focus on protecting your personal information and communications.
- Privacy settings: Review and adjust privacy settings on social media and other online accounts.
- Secure communication: Use end-to-end encrypted messaging apps and email services.
- Data sharing: Be cautious about sharing sensitive information online and with others.
Again, nothing prevents you from doing these things earlier. I am just proposing a prioritization model because life is busy, and the time you can (and should) dedicate to cybersecurity is limited.
Level 4 – Esteem Needs: Threat Monitoring and Risk Management (10%)
At this stage, you have a solid system in place and concentrate on staying informed and proactive about potential threats.
- Security awareness: Take a course on the most important security threats
- Incident response plan: Develop a plan to handle potential security breaches or cyberattacks.
- Regular personal cybersecurity audits: Periodically review and assess your cybersecurity measures.
I think having a basic incident response plan is especially important. I personally built my plan starting with a stupid question: what would I do if my phone was stolen?
We will cover planning for incidents in further articles of this guide.
Level 5 – Self-Actualization: Continuous Improvement and Cyber Resilience (10%)
Finally, you strive for the continuous improvement of your protection, you are ahead of your protection and your main priority is to optimize your cybersecurity to automatize it as much as possible.
- Cybersecurity education: Invest in ongoing education and training to stay ahead of evolving threats.
- Advanced security solutions: Explore and adopt cutting-edge security technologies.
- Leverage automation: you particularly put the focus on tools that automatize actions you were doing manually in previous levels (i.e., asking an AI to improve your incident response plan).
Keep in mind this model. I think it’s a great way to know where to start first to improve your digital protection. I insist: it is to be considered critically.
You can prioritize otherwise. The important is that it works for you.
Short-Term Actions: Establishing a Cybersecurity Baseline
In this section, we’ll focus on creating a strong cybersecurity baseline.
Just like building a solid financial foundation, it’s crucial to start with the essentials that will protect you from immediate threats (levels 1 and 2 of the pyramid).
Let’s explore the key short-term actions that will make a significant impact on your cybersecurity.
Essential Cybersecurity Tools and Practices
- Password Management: Secure your accounts with strong, unique passwords. Use a password manager to store and generate complex passwords, and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible, starting with the most important accounts (let’s be smart!).
- Email Security: Choose a secure email provider with robust encryption and spam filtering (and yes, you can stick with Gmail). Learn to recognize and avoid phishing scams by verifying the sender’s identity and being cautious with links and attachments.
- Safe Browsing: Use a trusted browser with privacy-focused settings. Install ad-blockers and anti-tracking extensions, and always ensure your connection is encrypted (HTTPS).
- Device Security: Keep your devices up-to-date with the latest software patches and security updates. Install a reputable antivirus and anti-malware solution, and configure your devices to lock automatically when not in use.
Manage your cybersecurity like you manage your finances
In personal finance, you start by building an emergency fund, paying off high-interest debt, and creating a budget. Similarly, your cybersecurity baseline is about establishing essential habits and tools that protect you from the most common threats.
By taking these short-term actions, you’ll build a solid cybersecurity foundation that serves as the basis for your mid-term and long-term goals. Just as you wouldn’t invest in stocks without first having enough money to survinve, you should not overlook these essential cybersecurity practices.
Mid-Term Protection Objectives: Tailoring Cybersecurity to Your Goals
With a strong cybersecurity baseline in place, it’s time to focus on your mid-term protection objectives (level 3 of the pyramid). These objectives should align with your unique goals and ambitions, whether you’re an entrepreneur, influencer, or just trying to protect your family. Let’s explore some examples.
Entrepreneurs: Enhancing Business Security
- Secure Communication: Implement end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms for internal and external communication to protect sensitive business information.
- Employee Training: Develop a cybersecurity training program to educate your team on best practices and threat awareness. You are a one-person business? Well, train yourself.
- Incident Response Plan: Create a plan to detect, respond, and recover from potential cyber incidents, minimizing the impact on your business.
Influencers: Protecting Your Online Reputation
- Social Media Security: Strengthen privacy settings, use strong and unique passwords, and enable 2FA for all social media accounts.
- Monitor Your Online Presence: Regularly review your online presence to identify and address potential vulnerabilities or unauthorized content.
- Brand Protection: Register your domain name and trademarks to prevent unauthorized use of your brand identity.
Families: Safeguarding Your Home and Loved Ones
- Home Network Security: Secure your Wi-Fi network with a strong password, enable guest networks for visitors, and keep your router firmware up-to-date.
- Parental Controls: Set up parental controls on devices and internet access to protect children from inappropriate content and potential threats.
- Identity Theft Protection: Monitor your credit reports and sign up for identity theft protection services to detect and address potential fraud.
Long-Term Cybersecurity Objectives: Sustainable Cybersecurity Investments
As we turn our attention to long-term cybersecurity objectives, it’s essential to consider sustainable investments that will protect you in the years to come (levels 4 and 5 of the pyramid). These objectives focus on anticipating future threats, reducing your exposure by reducing the amount of your personal data out there, and making sure you are ready just in case something would happen. Let’s delve into some key areas to consider.
Planning for the Future: Cybersecurity Strategies and Tools
- Continuity and disaster recovery strategy: make sure you have a plan the day you are attacked. You know, to get back access to your data, and minimize the costs of the event.
- Removing your data from data brokers: by removing yourself from data brokers, your email and other personal info will be less around on the internet, which means less phishing.
- Cyber Threat Intelligence: Subscribe to cyber threat intelligence services for individuals such as Blackcloack or SundaySecurity that provide actionable insights into potential threats targeting your industry (if you are an entrepreneur or influencer) or personal interests.
In personal finance, long-term planning often includes investments in diverse assets, college savings plans, and estate planning. Similarly, long-term cybersecurity objectives focus on future-proofing your digital life by staying ahead of emerging threats. The benefit? Increased peace of mind.
Diversification of Cybersecurity Tools: Finding the Right Balance
In this section, we’ll explore the importance of diversifying your cybersecurity tools and striking the right balance between protection and usability. Again, I love the principle of learning from finances and investing. Like financial diversification, in cybersecurity, we can think about an optimal allocation of tools and resources.
The Importance of Diversification in Cybersecurity
- Reducing Dependency: Just as you wouldn’t put all your financial eggs in one basket, relying on a single cybersecurity solution exposes you to unnecessary risks. Diversify your tools to reduce dependency and improve overall protection. So, this means: your antivirus is not enough.
- Comprehensive Protection: Diversifying your cybersecurity tools ensures that you have multiple layers of defense, addressing a wide range of threats and vulnerabilities.
- Adaptability: A diverse cybersecurity portfolio allows you to adapt quickly to emerging threats and technological advancements.
Example of an Equilibrated Allocation of Cyber Tools
- Password Management: Use a combination of password managers, 2FA, and biometrics to secure your accounts.
- Device Protection: Employ a multi-layered approach, including antivirus, anti-malware, firewalls, and regular software updates.
- Network Security: Combine VPNs, encrypted Wi-Fi networks, and secure DNS services to protect your online activities.
- Data Backup: Utilize a mix of local and cloud-based backup solutions to ensure data redundancy and quick recovery.
- Monitoring and Alerting: Leverage different monitoring tools and services to stay informed about potential threats and vulnerabilities.
This example demonstrates how to achieve a balanced cybersecurity strategy. By adopting a diversified approach, you’ll be better prepared to address a wide range of cyber threats, ensuring robust protection without compromising usability. That’s what you want, no?
In the next section, we’ll discuss how to assess and optimize your cybersecurity investments based on three key criteria.
Assessing Cybersecurity Investments: Three Criteria for Success
To make the most of your cybersecurity investments, it’s essential to evaluate them based on specific criteria. Let’s be picky for once. This will help you prioritize your resources and ensure you’re getting the best value from your chosen solutions. Let’s explore three critical criteria to consider when assessing your cybersecurity investments.
Criterion 1: Impact on Protection
- Threat Coverage: Analyze the range of threats and vulnerabilities addressed by the tool or service.
- Effectiveness: Evaluate the solution’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to security incidents.
- Layers of Defense: Consider how the investment complements and strengthens your existing cybersecurity strategy.
Criterion 2: Ease of Implementation and Management
- Compatibility: Assess whether the solution is compatible with your existing infrastructure and systems.
- User-friendliness: Determine if the tool or service is easy to set up, manage, and maintain.
- Support and Updates: Evaluate the quality of customer support and the frequency of updates provided by the vendor.
Criterion 3: Cost and Return on Investment (ROI)
- Initial and Ongoing Costs: Calculate the total cost of ownership, including setup, licensing, and maintenance fees.
- Risk Reduction: Estimate the potential savings from avoiding security breaches, data loss, or downtime of your applications (especially valuable if you have a website).
- Productivity and Efficiency Gains: Assess the solution’s impact on streamlining processes, reducing manual tasks, and improving overall productivity.
What to Remember from These Three Criteria
- Balance Protection, Usability, and Cost: Aim for a well-rounded cybersecurity strategy that effectively addresses your needs without compromising usability or exceeding your budget.
- Continuously Reevaluate: Regularly review your cybersecurity investments, taking into account changes in the threat landscape, your objectives, and technological advancements.
- Prioritize Your Needs: Focus on the cybersecurity investments that provide the most significant impact on your protection, align with your goals, and offer the best ROI.
By assessing your cybersecurity investments using these three criteria, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and optimize your personal cybersecurity strategy. I told you it was useful to get inspired by personal finances.
Monitoring Your Cybersecurity Progress: Tools and Techniques
Keeping track of your personal cybersecurity progress is vital to ensure the effectiveness of your protection strategy. In this section, we’ll introduce you to tools and techniques that can help you monitor and adjust your cybersecurity investments, staying aligned with your objectives.
Personal Cybersecurity Tracker Template
It’s a free tool I built and you can access it here.
- Progress Tracking: Use the tracker to record your progress over time. Check every action you complete towards better security. It will motivate you to continue.
- Goal Setting: Establish short-term, mid-term, and long-term cybersecurity objectives, and use the tracker to monitor your progress toward these goals.
- Keep seeing the big picture: by writing down and following your cybersecurity, you can be sure your decisions are consistent, and avoid two buying tools that do the same thing.
By implementing a personal cybersecurity tracker, you’ll gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of your protection strategy. I have been doing it over the past year and I saw a radical change. I will keep you posted.
Guarantees and Considerations for Cybersecurity Customers
As a cybersecurity customer, it’s crucial to understand the guarantees provided by your chosen tools and services, as well as the role of cyber insurances and potential compensations in the event of a cyber attack. In this section, we’ll explore these topics to help you make informed decisions and maximize your protection.
Levels of Protection: Setting Realistic Expectations
- No Absolute Guarantee: Remember that no cybersecurity solution offers 100% protection. It’s essential to maintain a multi-layered defense and stay vigilant.
- Security Certifications: Look for tools and services with recognized security certifications (ISO 27001, SOC 2) ensuring that they meet industry standards and best practices.
- Even if you leverage tools and services, do not forget. You are the captain, and you must continue to behave as such.
The Role of Cyber Insurances
- Risk Mitigation: Cyber insurance policies can help mitigate the financial impact of a cyber attack, covering costs such as data recovery, legal fees, and customer notifications.
- Tailored Coverage: Choose a policy that aligns with your specific needs, considering factors such as your industry, the size of your organization, and the types of data you handle.
- Incident Response Support: Some cyber insurance providers offer incident response services, helping you detect, contain, and recover from a cyber attack (if you own a business, it is particularly worth it).
Compensation and Remediation
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs): Understand the guarantees and compensations outlined in your vendor’s SLA, including response times, uptime commitments, and potential refunds.
- Data Breach Support: Inquire about the assistance provided by your cybersecurity vendor in the event of a data breach, such as forensic investigation, legal advice, or public relations support.
- Post-Incident Recovery: Assess your chosen tool or service’s capabilities to assist you in recovering from a cyber attack, including restoring data, repairing systems, and implementing additional security measures.
With these considerations in mind, you’ll be better equipped to choose the right tools and services, manage your expectations, and minimize the impact of potential cyber-attacks. In the next section, we’ll address some frequently asked questions to help you further refine your cybersecurity strategy.
Bonus Part: Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we’ll address some common questions related to personal cybersecurity, providing valuable insights to help you define your strategy, optimize your investments, and diversify your protection.
How to Diversify My Cybersecurity?
- Combine multiple tools and services: Employ a mix of solutions, such as password managers, antivirus software, firewalls, and VPNs, to cover various aspects of cybersecurity.
- Stay updated on emerging technologies: Continuously explore and adopt new cybersecurity technologies to stay ahead of evolving threats.
- Layered defense: Implement a defense-in-depth approach by adding multiple layers of protection at different levels. To the multiple tools mentioned just above (the technical layer), add your personal security incident response plans and the regular assessment of the effectiveness of your actions (the administrative layer).
How to Define My Cybersecurity Strategy?
- Identify your objectives: Understand your short-term, mid-term, and long-term cybersecurity goals, considering your unique needs, risks, and ambitions.
- Assess your current state: Evaluate your current cybersecurity measures, identify gaps, and prioritize improvements.
- Create an action plan: Develop a roadmap to achieve your objectives, outlining the tools, services, and best practices you’ll adopt to enhance your cybersecurity posture.
How to Optimize My Cybersecurity Investments?
- Prioritize high-impact solutions: Focus on tools and services that provide the most significant protection for your unique needs and risks.
- Continuously reevaluate: Regularly review your cybersecurity investments in light of changes in the threat landscape, your objectives, and technological advancements.
- Assess based on three criteria: Evaluate your investments considering their impact on protection, ease of implementation and management, and cost and return on investment.
By addressing these points, you’ll gain valuable insights into managing your personal cybersecurity, helping you create a robust, adaptable strategy that meets your unique needs and provides lasting peace of mind.
Throughout this guide, we’ve explored various aspects of personal cybersecurity, from setting protection horizons and applying the Maslow pyramid concept to diversifying your cybersecurity tools and optimizing your investments.
By following the advice and best practices outlined in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to develop a robust, sustainable cybersecurity strategy that meets your unique needs and offers lasting peace of mind.
In the next article, “12 Rules for Your Cybersecurity,” we’ll dive deeper into practical guidance and actionable tips to help you further enhance your protection. We’ll cover how to deal with the pain points of essential topics such as password management, device security, data backup, and much more. In the meantime, digest this guide!