Most of us make basic cybersecurity mistakes every day, warns expert.
These include knowing your password by heart, allowing spam to clutter your inbox, and not using two-factor authentication.
The threat of hackers and other malicious actors in the cyberworld is significant, with one in three households having a computer whose device is infected with malware.
Overall, 47% of American adults have had their personal information exposed by cybercriminals.
This week, the FBI took down the world’s largest criminal online marketplace, where hackers flogged bank logins, eBay, Amazon and Facebook for as little as 50 cents.
Zane Bond, product manager of cybersecurity firm Keeper Security, warned that millions of Americans make mistakes every day, putting themselves and their information at risk. They are:
Remembering passwords could be a fatal mistake (file photo)
Most of us make basic mistakes when it comes to cybersecurity, says Zane Bond, product manager at Keeper Security
If your password is easy enough to remember, it’s easy for cybercriminals to crack it, Bond warns.
Bond also says that using a strong password on multiple accounts “sets you up for failure.”
He says, “The best way to ensure you have strong, unique passwords is to use a password manager that can create and store them for you.
“With a secure password manager, you only need to remember one master password, and you can rest assured that your other passwords are too difficult for a cybercriminal to crack.”
Do not unsubscribe from spam emails
Failing to unsubscribe from spam can make you easy prey for phishers (file photo)
Cybercriminals rely on us to make a mistake and click on the wrong link – so you need to make sure you’re not inundated with promotions and marketing materials, the expert says.
Unsubscribing from spam emails (such as the marketing emails you receive after buying something online) can help you stay safe, he says.
Bond says: “Unsubscribing whenever you see the option will help avoid email overload.
“Less spam cluttering your inbox means less room for error, and more time and energy available to keep tabs on phishing attacks.”
Users should also use built-in defenses to avoid clicking on risky links.
He says, “Don’t click on any link that you don’t have to click. Instead, you have to navigate and open the website yourself through a browser.
“You can also hover over the link to make sure it takes you where it claims.”
Not setting up a “guest” network for visitors to your home
Have you set up a guest network for your home? (file photo)
Most of us neglect to take basic security measures to protect our home Wi-Fi, such as setting up a separate “guest” network.
A guest network means guests can’t accidentally bring malware into your home and can’t access your devices.
It will appear as “your network name – guest” and has a separate password, and is activated from your router’s menu.
Bond says, “Simple precautions you take to secure your home Wi-Fi network will help prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your phones, tablets, computers and IoT devices.
“You can secure your Wi-Fi network by ensuring it has a strong, unique password, setting up a separate guest Wi-Fi network, enabling encryption on your router, using a VPN, and keeping your router software up to date.”
Not planning your digital afterlife
One of the biggest cybersecurity mistakes we all make is failing to plan for death, Bond warns.
When you die, your loved ones will need access to your information – and far too few of us bother to plan for this.
Bond says, “Two things are guaranteed in life: death and taxes. One we have to deal with, the other we try to avoid even thinking about.
“Our lives are moving more and more into the digital realm, and we need to think about how our loved ones will access the information they need when we are gone.
“The process involves taking a digital inventory of your online presence, assets and liabilities; designate a digital heir to receive your credentials and assets; and come up with a plan such as storing credentials and personal documentation in a secure password manager that can be passed on to your digital heir.
Bypass two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication can help you stay safe online (file photo)
Using two-factor authentication can make your accounts 99.9% more secure, according to Microsoft research.
Two-factor authentication is offered by most online accounts (in addition to a password, you are protected by requiring a code from an application or sent by SMS.
Bond says, “Add multi-factor authentication (MFA) where you can, starting with your most important accounts: email, social media, banks, crypto, etc.
“You can also integrate MFA into the autofill feature of a password manager, so the password manager does that second step for you.”
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