Top 10 mistakes that make you more vulnerable
Using Public WiFi
Using Flash Drives
Restricting User Account Control Features
Using Similar Passwords or ignoring Two-Factor Authentication
Weak & Guessable Passwords
Procrastinating on Software Updates
Answering Phishing Emails
Downloading Unsolicited Antivirus Software
Leaving Your Webcam Open
Clicking Questionable Links
Just grabbing coffee from your local StarBucks? Free Wifi offered at the Jiffy Lube Oil Change place? Tread carefully! There are reasons why some don’t ever use any public WiFi networks. Often these networks are not properly secured. Other times, the free Wifi could just be a decoy. Knowing full & well people want free internet, it wouldn’t take much to setup a Raspberry Pi Pineapple faking a trusted brand name & instead offering malware-laden access point for anyone looking to join. Once on the network, you could be providing a hacker access to passwords & other personal data.
Technology continues to get less expensive as it advances. In 2017 the world is treating USB 2.0 flash drives like we used to treat Floppy Disks! If you have not taken the time to disable “AutoPlay”, then you are one step away from a malicious hacker dropping a Flash Drive on the ground that is too tempting for you to not take a look.
While administrating Windows User Account Control (UAC) features can be annoying, & simply disabling the notifications is the fastest way to make them go away, these are important! The Windows User Account Control feature notifications let you know when changes are happening on your computer! How often do you cry fowl that Microsoft does something automatically, enables a feature, or lessens security by default. Well you have no room to complain if you have disabled this notification feature just to stop annoying you. For the exchange of connivence & silence, you have handed off the ability to change files without required permissions.
With or without you, the world has gotten more secure. If you are repeating the same password for important sites, you are just asking for a massive leak. When you create the same passwords for e-commerce, banking & social media websites the same, you really are making it easy for hackers. Also know as “daisy chaining”, having all of your accounts to be compromised, just by breaking into just one. Make sure you have unique passwords for various accounts, & try out new variations every six months or so. Alternatively, opt-in for two factor authentication, & go beyond just using a single, simple password.
To continue on the subject of low-hanging fruit from the security tree, using passwords that are not complex enough exposes you to the risk of bruteforce attacks. It is the attack where an automated software bot will repetitively attempt to login by changing the password for your account. The shorter and simpler password you use, the quicker it is for the software to guess it.
Putting off installing necessary updates, or ignoring advancements in security patches is a simple, single misstep that only helps hackers gain access. By ignoring system updates with the more commonly security challenged software like Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows, or Java, even with solid antivirus & firewall in place, big security holes in popular programs can leave you vulnerable to attack. What makes it worse, is the most recent exploits are reported on security websites & forums, only to be automated by bots & attackers. You should just patch the thing already, & get it done with!
Regardless of Spam or Phishing Emails, they should be easy to avoid, & even easier to detect. Reported by the Canadian government’s Get Cyber Safe site, over 80,000 users will fall victim to a phishing scam every day. Just know that the IRS will not email you, nor will they demand fines to be paid via iTunes gift cards. Additionally, if your bank really needs to notify you of something, don’t follow the link from your email. Take two seconds & visit the site by manually typing in the correct URL.
This one is difficult for the non-tech savvy. But that does not make it any less dangerous. Using vague titles such as “Windows Security”, & providing designs using the standard color schemes, I’ve seen a lot of unfortunately people install rouge antivirus software that they thought was legit. All this software does is masquerade itself as a “trial version”, & then warn you about stuff that isn’t real. Even if you pay the requested amount for the full version that does not exist, it’s not going to fix anything. Use a legit Antivirus from a known manufacturer like Kaspersky or Eset.
Reported by the Daily Mail, webcam hacks can be a scary violation of your privacy. Current Malware can provide an attacker remote access to your computer, as well as the ability to enable your webcam. The hardware of your camera is not protected in the same way as network-enabled devices. That is why it is so important that you learn the telltale signs of unexpected camera usage. Simply placing a piece of tape over the camera isn’t enough, however, since it does nothing to block the audio. Additionally, make sure you know how to completely disable the camera, outside of the Operating System.
While the internet is certainly a weird place, you just have to be careful & apply some common sense. As noted by Inc., users often get caught up by curiosity in visiting “oddball” websites, either something a friend tells you about or by downloading “free” movies, music & software. Clicking questionable link can add malware to your system that provies access to your files & information. To stay safe, always stick to reputable sites before you click through. Generally the most secure links will appear at the top of any Google search, but if you’re ever in doubt don’t click the link.
Disagree with our list? Did we not cover something you wanted to see? Feel free to leave a comment below!