Ways You Might Be Weakening Cybersecurity

A lot of the time, we get hacked because we’ve made ourselves easy targets by taking security risks, weakening cybersecurity on our devices.

Even though hackers use sophisticated technologies to hack into systems, they are still just people. And like any person, they have intuition and can learn things about others based on their habits. Just like hackers, we are also people that can make human mistakes, which makes it easier for hackers to infiltrate our operating systems.

Human Error From Weakening Cybersecurity

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Security experts believe that our computers and phones have one critical weakness that cannot be overcome with any software fix or patch. That weakness is the user – you and me. We simply make too many errors and mistakes as we use our devices, and those mistakes open the gates for unwanted hackers. You can have the top of the line, most expensive antivirus software on your computer. But if you accidentally reveal information about yourself, the anti-virus software is not going to do much good. Essentially, we are the biggest cybersecurity threat out there.

However, the mistakes we make aren’t always so obvious. Sometimes the information hackers use to get to us is readily available and on display for the general public and we don't even realize it.

Social Engineering From Weakening Cybersecurity

Social engineering is a new kind of hacking that involves collecting significant amounts of information about victims to manipulate them into providing even more information. Hackers exploit our natural inclination to trust other people by seeming reputable or legitimate. This is the best way for them to get more personal information about you, and the easiest. After all, if you tell them what they want to know, they won't need to go through the trouble of messing with your device or accounts to get it. Ultimately, we’ve made it easier for hackers to collect sensitive data about us because we put too much of our information on the public Internet.

Ways to Protect Your Cybersecurity

Consider these cybersecurity tips to improve your online experience and protect your information.

Do not accept friend requests or connection requests from people you don’t know

Friend requests are an established part of every social media site. The intent is for people to connect online. Furthermore, the concept of friend requests is specifically designed to give the user control over who they do and don't want in their digital circle. However, this becomes irrelevant when users choose instead to accept every friend request, regardless of who they are.

Hackers frequently catfish on social media sites. They create Facebook and other social media accounts to gain access to users’ information. To make friends, they generate fake friend requests to send to unsuspecting users. They use special programs to collect all kinds of information about users in their friends lists - information that can be used for social engineering hacks.

Ultimately, unless you actually know the person requesting to follow you, deny the request. It could be a hacker trying to steal your information.

Keep your shopping carts private on sites like Amazon and eBay

Though we don't often consider this as a primary source of information for hackers, you can learn a great deal about someone from their shopping cart. Hackers can make general inferences about your life based on the items you're purchasing.

With this information, phishing emails have much greater success rates. Hackers target you with fake offers on products they know you like and purchase. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to improve your privacy online; it will be harder for a hacker to find you and make you a target. Furthermore, when online, make sure you only use HTTPS sites for better security.

Update your software when new versions come out

It's crucial for both your network security and your computer security to listen to your technology when it gives you alerts for new updates. Old software, when not kept up-to-date, can no longer catch threats or viruses as efficiently as before. This is problematic, weakening cybersecurity on your device and making you vulnerable. When you get update alerts, set aside time to let your computer or phone update rather than just putting it off. It will protect you from malicious code, installed malware, and more.

Use two-factor authentication when possible

Strong passwords and proper password management help protect accounts, but two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is specifically designed to put multiple layers of security on your online accounts. Many banks, credit card companies, and social media sites recommend that users employ 2FA to protect their information.

When you go to log in, you'll enter your username and password, but you'll also get a text message or call sent to your phone with a code. You have to enter the code in order to log in to the account. This prevents hackers from getting in with just your username and password; plus, if your receive a code for an account you aren't accessing, you'll know something is wrong.

Invest in quality anti-malware software

Good security software keeps security breaches to a minimum and alerts you of any current security risks on your device. It helps stop ransomware attacks, worms, Trojan horses, and other viruses, along with protecting against hacking attempts. Many websites provide free cybersecurity programs and you can invest in software like Norton360 to keep your devices protected.

Keep your social media accounts private and post smart

Your social media accounts are, unfortunately, an easily-exploited vulnerability. Keeping your accounts public puts you at an increased risk for information theft; it's best to keep accounts private and monitor your follower lists. Refrain from posting pictures or information that you wouldn't be comfortable with everyone seeing.

Protecting Your Own Information Protects Others

Protecting your information makes you and others around you safer. For example, should you open a phishing email on a work computer, connected on your work computer network, the virus spreads easily amongst connected devices. It could go all the way to the corporate network, infecting other computers and stealing information. This happens far too frequently. All it really takes is for one employee to open an email. With small businesses, data breaches like this are even more damaging. If you take your own cybersecurity seriously, the benefits go beyond just yourself.

Key Takeaway with Weakening Cybersecurity

Be very careful about the information you share publicly on the Internet. And be very careful about who has access to that information, whether it be your email address, phone number, or public IP address. Information security - and privacy - is crucial in the digital age we live in. Your information can be used for malicious purposes; follow the tips above to avoid cyber attacks like phishing scams, DDoS attacks, and more.