July 13, 2021

7 Common Cybersecurity Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

These days, cybersecurity is more important than ever. We all have some information on our devices that we want to keep secure.

If you own a business, cybersecurity shifts from a "should-have" to a "must-have." On top of your personal information, you're protecting the information of your clients, employees, and the business as a whole.

Unfortunately, many businesses don't seem to have gotten this memo.

Some aren't tech-savvy or don't grasp the danger hackers present for their business. Others understand these dangers but make some common cybersecurity mistakes. Plenty of them operate by the "Why would it happen to me?" principle.

In any of these cases, the solution is to double down on cybersecurity. Here is a list of seven key cybersecurity mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

1. Using Personal Devices for Work

Using personal devices for work purposes is always tempting, isn't it? Your phone's right there—why not log into your business account real quick?

The thing is, doing this on the regular will open you up to a whole host of issues. Remember, anything you do on the internet puts you at risk in some way. Plus, let's be honest, we're not as careful about our browsing habits during our "me time."

To avoid these issues, make it a habit not to combine your personal and business devices. This goes for your employees as well. If you can afford to supply your employees with work devices, do so right away.

2. Using Weak Passwords

How easy is it to guess your password? Do you use something obvious, such as your birthday or your mom's maiden name?

If the answer is yes, you're not alone. Even in today's digital era, plenty of people still use "password" or "123456" as their password. Well, the easier your password is to guess, the simpler it is for hackers to break it and cause a data breach.

The solution is obvious enough: creating strong passwords. Use more than eight characters, mix up letters and numbers, and don't use personal info. If you want a strong password that's easy to remember, use the "three random words" rule.

For best results, never use the same password for two or more accounts. If you're creating a new password, make sure it's not almost the same as the old one.

3. Browsing Untrusted Websites

Browsing unsafe websites is another mistake that's easy to avoid. This is true whether you're using a personal or work device.

Many websites contain links that could install malware on your computer if you click on them. If that device connects to your office Wi-Fi, your entire company could be at risk. Even if the link contains something harmless, the website hosting it could be anything but.

This is why staying safe when browsing the web is key to protecting business data. Any time you're about to open a new website, take a quick peek at the address bar. Unsafe sites don't have a green padlock or an "S" next to the "HTTP" part at the start of the URL.

4. Trusting Public Wi-Fi

Doing work-related stuff in public places is always a security risk. The main reason for that: relying on public Wi-Fi to keep you safe.

Don't get us wrong; we love public Wi-Fi: it's free, convenient, and easy to use. That said, it's exactly these factors that make it unsafe. When you're working on a public Wi-Fi network, any hacker can use a "man in the middle" attack to access your data.

The easiest way to stay safe is to avoid doing any sensitive tasks on public Wi-Fi networks. If you have to, be extra careful and use a VPN to hide your location.

5. Not Updating Software

Nobody enjoys regular software updates, but they're a key part of keeping us safe. This is particularly true when it comes to businesses.

Most of the time, software updates fix security weaknesses for devices we use all the time. They tend to be an answer to known threats that are already getting exploited. For example, one recent update was a response to these attacks on the government.

Any time you see an update pop-up, do yourself a favor and download it ASAP. This will put a pause on your workday, but it might save you from far more dangerous issues down the road.

6. Falling for Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are one of the most common cyber threats out there. Three billion of them get sent every single day, so you likely get them a lot.

The issue with phishing emails is that they're more sophisticated than ever. Gone are the days of getting an email from a Nigerian prince promising untold riches for a small sum of cash. Instead, these emails often contain wording taken from official organizations.

Phishing emails aim to trick you into giving away personal information. To avoid that, don't open any emails that seem suspicious. If you do, don't click on any links or attachments hiding within.

Fortunately, there are still ways to recognize a phishing email—as long as you pay attention. They may contain poor grammar, spelling, or errors that don't add up. Check the email address, as it will often have random numbers rather than words.

7. Thinking You're Safe

Many people believe they're immune from cybercrime. They assume that they're not important enough or that their security is good enough.

The truth is, every business is at risk of a cyber-attack. In fact, small businesses were subject to more than half of last year's security attacks. Hackers aren't picky—all they want is to benefit in some way and will often choose the easiest targets first.

This is why you should never get complacent when it comes to cybersecurity. To make sure you're 100% safe, review your security practices annually and update them as necessary.

 

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