From Yahoo to Facebook, we’ve seen some very large corporations in the news for security breaches, and there are countless cyber attacks waged on companies large and small daily. While it’s true some hackers are smarter than average when it comes to technology, many times we make it easy for them to infiltrate our systems.
Here we’ll take a look at some ways you may be unknowingly laying out the welcome mat for hackers looking to steal personal data, financial information, trade secrets, and more.
Oversharing on Social Networks
While social media can be a powerful tool for marketing, building a community, and staying connected to loved ones, it’s also a treasure trove of information for those looking to impersonate you.
Someone could look at your LinkedIn profile and see that you work for XYZ Corp. Next, they head over to your Facebook to see when your birthday is, your kids’ names, your spouse’s name and birthday, etc. They can see where you vacation, shop, or bank, and put together a list of accounts to try to hack into. Armed with birthdays, anniversaries, and names from your various social media accounts, even an amateur hacker can figure out passwords or impersonate you on the phone to get more information until they’ve found a way into your personal and professional accounts.
Make it hard to get your identity or credentials stolen. Be careful how much you share online, and make sure the passwords you use have nothing to do with your family, special dates, or even the names of your pets. Easy access to this information is an invitation for hackers.
Using the Same Password Everywhere
Yes, we know remembering a different password for each of your accounts is a hassle. But when it comes to your digital security, re-using passwords is an open invitation for hackers. If a hacker cracks one of your passwords, he knows it’s only a matter of time before he can unravel the rest of your digital world. Sometimes, they’ll even publish your password online. Then it’s open season on every account they can find.
Best practices dictate using long, complex passwords that aren’t in the dictionary. Hackers look for low-hanging fruit, so mix up your passwords for the various apps and online accounts that you log into.
Declining to Use 2-Step Authentication
Whenever possible, use a two-step process to verify your identity when logging into IT systems, financial accounts, and even social media. Facebook and Twitter both have a feature that enables you to add a second form of verification.
On Facebook, this feature can be found by going to the Security and Login Settings in the top right corner of the screen. Choose the “use two-factor authentication” option under Security and Login and choose which second method of verification you’d like to use.
This can help protect you if a hacker gets access to your phone. Cybersecurity for mobile devices is paramount because we use them to access business and personal networks of all sizes.
Missing the Latest Security Patches
It can be annoying to install the latest software update or an update to your smartphone, but skipping it can make you vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Updates are usually released to remediate a known attack that cyber thieves have exploited to get access to networks. So when you see updates for your operating system, Java, MS Office, or other software, be sure to install them immediately.
If a hacker sees that you’re using an outdated operating system based on your online activity, consider it painting a target on your system for him and all his buddies to try and break through your security.
Don’t be a Hacker’s Low-Hanging Fruit
It’s impossible to be completely protected from cyber crime. New exploits are being found and used all the time. But by being smart on social media, diversifying your passwords, and keeping your patches up-to-date, you can fly under the radar to help keep your accounts and devices safe.
About the Author
Aaron Smith is a tech writer and LA-based content strategist. He covers industry developments and in his free time, Aaron enjoys swimming, swing dancing, and sci-fi novels.