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How and why to strengthen your online security

Posted on August 2, 2022

VCC Information Technology student


Imagine locking your home with a two-digit combination code. How many tries do you think it would it take someone to break in?

Or imagine placing a large sign outside your house describing your excitement for your upcoming vacation in Hawaii. Is this a smart idea?

How we approach safety and security online should not be all that different from how we approach safety and security in our everyday physical environment. In both, we aim to safeguard confidential information and belongings, and only allow a trusted few people to have access.

Stepping up your online security

To help you strengthen your cyber defences, Vancouver Community College (VCC) Computing and Information Technology program coordinator Sid Khullar offers five useful tips to help you get started in fortifying your online information:

1. Create strong passwords
Use a strong and lengthy passphrase, and do not reuse passwords. Even better, use a secure password manager that generates, secures, and auto-fills the login information for you. BitWarden, KeePass, and 1Password are some examples.

2. Use two-factor authentication
Set up app-based two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever available, for example, with your financial institutions and e-mail accounts. This will prompt for additional verification through another channel, such as an app on your smartphone. Some popular 2FA apps include:

      3. Watch what you share
      Be selective in what information you share with whom, online or in-person. What might seem innocuous can be a gold mine for a hacker. This includes information such as your birthdate, mother’s maiden name, or first car.

      4. Think before you click
      Use an ad-blocker, such as uBlock Origin, and do not click on links from sources (e-mails or webpages) you do not trust or recognize. Also, beware of link redirects often used in phishing attacks that can make a malicious link seem legitimate. 

      5. Always be updating
      Keep your browser and software applications up to date. Vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered and patched so it is vital to keep your system updated. This includes your laptops, desktops, smartphones, smartwatches, routers, and other devices. 

      Cybersecurity experts needed

      Did you know that the world is currently facing a major shortage in cybersecurity talent? In a 2021 industry study by (ISC)2, two-thirds (60 per cent) of participants reported that a cybersecurity staffing shortage was placing their organizations at risk. This “Cybersecurity Workforce Gap” is currently counted at 2.72 million jobs worldwide.

      VCC Continuing Studies offers numerous part-time programs that have been specifically designed to meet this urgent need for cybersecurity professionals. For Canadian students and permanent residents, the Network Security advanced certificate teaches the latest methods in network analysis, architecture, forensics, and defence for careers in information systems security. For International students, the two-year Network Technology Administration and Security post-degree diploma offers equivalent skills with the option to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) upon completion.

      In this video, Sid chats with VCC instructor and industry professional Anthony Green about successfully launching a career in cybersecurity.


      Learn more about admission requirements, program structure, and more by visiting Computing and Information Technology at VCC Continuing Studies or emailing technology@vcc.ca.