According to the AV-TEST Institute, more than 390,000 new pieces of malware are detected each day. The sheer number of malicious programs gives hackers an ample opportunity to pick and choose their targets. Here is a rundown of the top 6 mistakes users make and how to avoid them to keep you and your network safe.
1) Clicking Questionable Links
Users often get caught in the trap of “oddball” sites through virtual word of mouth, or when downloading music or grabbing free photos. Clicking on a questionable link can add malware to your system that could give away access to your personal information, including bank accounts and credit card numbers. To stay safe, always stick to reputable sites before you click through.
2) Using Unknown Flash Drives
Backing-up your files and your system is important, but always be careful when inserting someone else’s flash or USB drive into your computer. External drives can be filled with malware. The bottom line: If it’s not your device, don’t use it. Scan your device regularly for viruses and other malicious
3) Downloading Unsolicited Antivirus Software
Everyone has stumbled upon a pop-up warning that your PC will be at risk unless you download free antivirus software immediately. Hackers are experts at getting you to download files before you know what’s happening, and one of their favorite tricks is to pretend their infectious code is actually a virus-scanning program to help you defend against online threats. However, clicking on this malware could actually block your computer from using legitimate antivirus solutions. Always make sure your antivirus software is always up to date with a pop-up blocker to keep unsafe links from appearing on your screen.
4) Using the Same Password without the Two -Factor Authentication
When you make all of your passwords for e-commerce, banking, and government websites the same, you’re really making a hacker’s day. This so-called “daisy chaining” allows all of your accounts to be compromised by breaking into just one. Make sure you have multiple passwords for your various accounts or use a password manager.
5) Answering Phishing Emails
As reported by the Canadian government’s Get Cyber Safe site, 80,000 users fall for phishing scams every day. The next time you get a phishing email—one that says you’ve won the lottery, need to “click here” to avoid IRS fines or to see a “shocking video”—delete it immediately. Most email systems have spam filters to catch these messages, but always check the sender (not just the name, but also the email address) and make sure it’s a trusted contact before clicking on any link you receive over email.
6) Procrastinating on Software Updates
Dragging your feet on installing necessary updates (for programs like Windows, Java, Flash, and Office) is a misstep that can help cybercriminals gain access. Even with solid antivirus programs in place, big security holes in popular programs can leave you vulnerable to attack. Microsoft recently rolled out patch MS15-081, which addresses several vulnerabilities in Office. By not downloading the update, you are missing out on the patch, and leaving your system open to an attack and potential data breach.
Users make computer security mistakes all the time and hackers are more than happy to take advantage of it!