The convergence of digital life with the physical world has introduced fresh challenges to the realm of cybersecurity. Although the digital landscape provides a myriad of prospects, such as novel methods of communication, online socializing, and the availability of endless information on any subject with a mere click, it simultaneously exposes users to significant risks and hazards.
Nearly half (47%) of the IT professionals surveyed by Thales believe that security threats are increasing in volume or severity, with 48% reporting an increase in ransomware attacks. More than a third (37%) have experienced a data breach in the past 12 months, including 22% who reported that their organizations had been victims of ransomware attacks.
Therefore, this is an ideal moment to evaluate your own digital presence and adjust your accounts (such as email and social media) to ensure the safety of your data. By being vigilant and proactive, and by eliminating these five bad habits, you can improve your cyber hygiene.
Poor Password Hygiene
Passwords serve as keys to various digital gateways. Unfortunately, we tend to use them carelessly because there are so many passwords to remember, typically around 100. Using the same password for multiple accounts and choosing easy-to-guess login details gives hackers a significant advantage. They have software to bypass weak encryption, test logins with commonly used password variants, and try to use already compromised passwords from other accounts (a phenomenon known as credential stuffing).
To address this, use a password manager to store all your strong and unique passwords or passphrases. Additionally, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on any account that offers this feature.
Using Insecure Websites
HTTPS sites use encryption to protect traffic passing from your web browser to the site in question. Encryption serves two purposes: to confirm that the website is authentic and not a fraudulent or phishing web property, and to ensure that cybercriminals cannot eavesdrop on your communications to steal passwords and financial information. Although many phishing sites use HTTPS these days, you can still identify fake sites if you are careful.
Always look for the padlock symbol at the beginning of the link and check the spelling, especially for well-known brands, which are the most frequent targets of spoofing. Consider any alert notifications from your browser and analyze the source of suspicious sites.
Combining Personal and Professional Life
Balancing work and personal life has been a challenge over the last few years. As the line between the two has become increasingly blurred, cyber risks have also increased.
For example, what happens if you use your work emails and passwords to register on shopping websites or any other site that comes under attack? In this case, hackers could compromise your business account and steal company information. Conversely, using unprotected personal devices at work also increases the risk of security breaches. In this scenario, if the company is attacked, hackers can gain access to your personal data, which they can exploit.
Separating your work and personal life online is a very sound approach. Use your work devices only for accessing business information and connecting with your colleagues, while reserving your personal devices for personal use. This way, you can avoid having your personal information or company data falling into the hands of cybercriminals.
Revealing Personal Information Over the Phone
Voice phishing or “vishing” is a technique used by scammers to obtain personal and financial information from victims by using social engineering tactics. To make their attack seem legitimate, scammers often mask their phone numbers.
It’s important not to share sensitive information over the phone. Always ask for the caller’s identity and the company they represent, and then verify the information received.
Using Outdated Software
Cybercriminals can attack you through operating system and application vulnerabilities on your devices. Since 2020, over 18,000 software bugs have been discovered, averaging more than 50 new vulnerabilities per day.
Keep your devices up to date by enabling automatic updates and performing updates when prompted. This won’t interfere too much with your daily life and will help you avoid inconveniences in the long run.
Recent years have been marked by numerous global disruptions, including pandemics, the conflict in Ukraine, and the new hybrid way of working, which has had a disruptive effect on daily routines. These challenges have provided cybercriminals with new opportunities to develop methods of attack, with the momentum constantly shifting. The most recent period has proved to be one of the most prolific yet for cyberattackers, with huge amounts of data exposed.
Implementing better security measures can mitigate the risks associated with data leaks and breaches, as well as the financial losses that come with them. Improved security can also reduce the exposure to identity fraud and consequent financial losses.