3 Ways You Might Be Helping Hackers Without Knowing It

3 Ways You Might Be Helping Hackers Without Knowing It

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Online security breaches don’t happen only to big companies. 42% of cyber attacks target small businesses. According to a Pew Research Center report, 35% of adult Americans received warning that their sensitive information has been compromised. 41% of adult Americans have had fraudulent charges on their credit card, and 16% have had their email taken over.

It’s not easy to stay safe on the Internet today. There are many people and organizations out there who would like to compromise your or your business’ safety. And if you find yourself often running to the help desk because you feel your security has been breached, you should find out whether you’re doing something that’s helping the hackers breach your security.

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You Have Bad Password Practices

Most of adult Americans understand that using the same password across several accounts is a security risk. But still, the Pew Research Center’s report shows that almost two out of five adult Americans are still using the same or similar passwords for their accounts. Roughly the same number of adult Americans share their passwords with friends and family.

Both of these practices increase the risk of your accounts being hacked. If you use the same password across different accounts, if someone hacks one of your accounts, you might as well treat all of your accounts as being already hacked.  And when other people know your password, they can log into your accounts from compromised computers, divulge your password in a phishing attack, or compromise your security on purpose.

Another bad password practice you should steer clear from is setting weak passwords. With enough time and resources, any password can be breached. Brute force attacks, the type of attack that tries one password combination after another, could be used against the strongest password with success. But the stronger the password – the more characters it uses with a greater variation – the less practical it becomes for hackers to try and break it with brute force attacks.

You’re Not Keeping Your Software Up-to-Date

The biggest problem with computer security threats is that they don’t stand still. They are always changing. People who create viruses, malware, and other malicious tools are always looking for new vulnerabilities to exploits and new entry points into protected systems.

Luckily, the other camp, the one whose aim is to protect you from threats, is doing the same. Software developers regularly release updates for their software. These updates can improve and fix some functionalities of the software, but often enough they will include security updates that fix newly discovered vulnerabilities or help protect from newly developed threats.

Security software developers constantly add new definitions that help their software protect you from new threats. Keeping the anti-virus threat library up-to-date, and regularly updating your software are two things that can greatly reduce the chances of being hit by a zero-day attack. If you can’t be bothered to set automatic updates, and if you don’t want to install the latest software update even though you’ve heard it contains a patch for a recently discovered weak spot, you’ll only have yourself to blame when you catch the latest bug.

You’re Not Educating Yourself or Your Employees

It often turns out that the weakest point in a security system is – a human being. You can use strong passwords, check for software updates every day, and have the most advanced antivirus and antimalware features enabled. But in the end, all of these security features are only as good as the people who are using them are.

Bad online habits and not knowing how to recognize a threat when you see one are commonly identified as the biggest threats to your online security. Phishing emails, for example, now commonly contain ransomware. As many as 30% of them get opened, and they are being sent out at increasing rates.

Just like software developers need to stay on top of the latest security threats, so do you. If you don’t learn how to browse, read email, or contact support properly, you will be open to threats. If you’re a business owner, you also have the responsibility to help your employees learn which types of behaviors are risky, and how the common threats like social engineering manifest themselves.

Staying safe and secure online is not a fun activity. Most of the people would probably find it more convenient to stop using two-step authentication, remembering long and complex passwords, updating their software, and staying on top of the latest scams and threats. But to stay safe among the evolving security threats, you need to stop helping those looking to cause you or your business damage and adopt proper security measures.