When it comes to protecting your identity and activity online, it can be all too easy to make mistakes. And a single mistake can be enough to compromise the security of your entire system – even of your whole network. Read on to learn about some of the most common cybersecurity mistakes people make – so you can avoid making them yourself.
Practicing poor password security is one of the most common cybersecurity mistakes people make. Everyone knows that reusing passwords or using low-security passwords is risky, but, like smoking cigarettes in 1975, everyone does it. You need to use a strong, unique password for each of your online accounts, and that can be hard when you’ve got a lot of online accounts. You shouldn’t be writing them down, either, because if someone gets their hands on that list, they have access to all your accounts.
A password manager is the answer. A good password manager will help you generate unique passwords and store them. You just need to remember one password to access the database. If you buy a good antivirus program, it will probably have a password manager included. Otherwise, you can choose a standalone program like LastPass or 1Password.
You should never click on a link or download an attachment from an email unless you know the sender. Ideally, you should also be expecting the email – just because you know somebody doesn’t mean their email account didn’t get hacked, too. An email from your bank, the IRS, or your favorite shopping website is likely to be a phishing scam. Learn to recognize the warning signs so you can avert phishing scams.
That USB drive you found in the parking lot at work should go straight in the trash. Hackers load these devices with malware and then leave them around for people to find. Plug it into your device, and bam, you’re infected.
Multi-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security for your email and other important accounts. It requires you to use a secondary means of identifying yourself when you log into your account. For instance, you have to enter your username and password as normal, but then identify yourself a second time by entering a code into an authentication app on your mobile phone. This can keep hackers out of your accounts – and give you a heads up that someone might be trying to get in.
With work-from-home and hybrid workforces gaining ground in the post-COVID environment, this can be an easy mistake to make, but you shouldn’t use the same devices for work and personal purposes. Using your work device for personal purposes increases your risk of getting malware on the device, and it’s not secure from your employer’s perspective since it makes the device more vulnerable. You could even lose your job if your personal use of your work device exposes it to malware.
You absolutely need to use antivirus software from a strong developer like Trend Micro on all of your devices, even your Apple devices. Viruses and malware are still out there, and they’re still a big threat. Even if you’re running macOS or iOS on your devices, you still need antivirus protection to keep you safe from increasingly sophisticated malware attacks.
Software updates improve your device’s performance and, among other things, provide fixes for known security issues with the operating system. For example, software updates can include patches to close backdoors against attack. Install your updates as soon as they become available to minimize your vulnerability.
Did you know that when you use public wifi, anyone else on the network can see what you’re doing? You need to use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your traffic when you’re using public networks – or even when you’re using your own network, as an added layer of security.
Backing up your data is so important – if something happens to a device or you’re targeted by a ransomware device, back ups can prove invaluable. You’re much less likely to lose data forever if you have copies on the cloud and in another backup location. That way, if you get targeted by ransomware, you won’t need to pay the ransom because you’ll already still have the data.
Cybersecurity mistakes are so easy to make – and they can ruin your life and finances. Be vigilant about protecting your devices and data, and save yourself a lot of trouble.