Taking a look at some cyber security mistakes and how to avoid them for a more secure 2020.
Denying you are a target.
When it comes to the internet, you cannot anticipate if a breach will directly affect you. New malware may appear, or a service that you use may get hacked and your password can be leaked. Prevention can go a long way in securing your connected presence.
Clicking on suspicious links.
Receiving spam such as a seemingly harmless ad, an offer that sounds too good to pass up, or an email coaxing you to click a link to claim your prize, has become a part of everyday life. If you have even a shred of doubt, don’t click on it. The link may contain malware that could wreak havoc on your computer.
Failing to patch.
When the latest patch for your smartphone’s operating system is released and you receive reminders to install the update – are you hitting the postpone button instead? You should always keep your devices updated to the latest version of software available. It can save you from a headache in the long run.
Recycling your passwords.
To simplify the arduous task of memorizing scores of passwords, some people resort to recycling. This means that they reuse the same password or passphrase, perhaps by varying a character or two or by adding upon it. This practice should be avoided. If cyber hackers figure out one of your passwords, password reuse helps them to guess the rest of your passwords.
Not using 2FA.
Two-factor authentication (2FA), also known as multifactor authentication, is a simple way to add an extra layer of security to your accounts. The most common 2FA method used by popular online services is a text message with an authentication code sent to your phone.
Ignoring your router setup.
The router is the heart of your home’s interconnectivity. All of your devices with an internet connection – smart TV, smartphone, personal computer, or laptop – are linked to your router. Many people do only the bare necessities during the installation, or keep the default settings pre-configured by your internet service provider (ISP). You should always take steps to secure your router so you can browse the internet safely.
Using unsecured public Wi-Fi.
Most places like cafes, restaurants, and even shops offer complimentary Wi-Fi connections. As convenient as such free connections might be, you should be careful what you connect to. An unsecured public Wi-Fi can lead to your private data being stolen or your device being hacked.
Besides using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to your work’s servers, there are other security reasons to use one in private. You can use VPNs to access your home network remotely or to limit your ISP from seeing what you are doing, or to browse safely on public Wi-Fi. Depending on what you want to do, there are various types of VPNs you can choose from to protect your communication.
Skimping on security software.
Always use reputable security software to protect your data. Clicking on the wrong link might lead to malicious code making its way to your computer. Security software provides multiple layers that can stop these threats in their tracks.
Underestimating backup and encryption.
Always back up your sensitive data and things you have recently been working on. If something happens to your computer, you can continue unhindered by the unfortunate loss of your device. The same goes for encryption. Never underestimate the value of having your data encrypted. If you get hacked, the attacker will have a tough time getting to your data. If your device gets stolen, you have an extra layer of security in place before you remotely wipe it.
Always securely lock your smartphone with authentication software. Optimally, use a combination of a biometric feature if possible (fingerprint or face recognition) and a password.
Using the official store.
Unofficial app stores aren’t strictly monitored. Most manufacturers advise against rooting or jailbreaking your device due to potential exposure to unnecessary risks.
Granting apps permissions.
Apps request a variety of permissions so they can work appropriately. As convenient as it might be to scroll absentmindedly through the permissions and tap accept, you should always thoroughly read the permission list requested by an application. If you accept them all you may be granting more access to sensitive data than you need to. After all, does a flashlight app really need access to your microphone or camera?
Some software providers offer the option of remotely wiping your device if it is lost or stolen. As radical as the idea may sound, it is a good option to have if you store sensitive data you don’t want anyone to see. Alternatively, you may be able to set up your device to wipe itself if authentication fails a certain number of times.
Safe disposal of the device.
You might want to pass along your device or even sell it. The process to dispose of it safely may include anything from encrypting the drive before wiping it, to logging out of all the services you use. Don’t underestimate the critical importance of thoroughly conducting this process so that your privacy remains intact.
Scam calls and phishing texts.
Phishing scams take all kinds of forms. Email is the most popular, but scammers have been known to send out text messages that contain infected links that can contain all types of malware.
It can’t happen to me.
Admitting the possibility of a security breach or of your accounts being hacked can help you in the long run. By being prepared and securing your devices, to having backups at the ready, or having the option to remotely wipe your device, you can keep the damage to a minimum.