Limit your exposure now by making sure you’re avoiding these five mistakes that open up easy hacker entry points to your network.
1. Not logging out of all your accounts. You’re tired and need to go to bed so you simply shut the top of your laptop and don’t bother to log out of your open accounts. Seems innocent enough. But just because your laptop’s closed doesn’t mean your accounts are too.
Logging out of your open email, WordPress content admin sites and other online accounts helps secure your information. While it’s not a guarantee of security, it’s a good policy to protect you against easy exposure to hacking. Keep this in mind for public places too. If you’re working on your laptop in a public place, always log out and lock your computer before stepping away, even for a moment.
2. You don’t update your passwords often and don’t make them complex. I know it’s annoying, but it’s a good practice to make your passwords complex and to update them often (at least quarterly). That means upper and lower case letters, numbers and yes, symbols. Generic and unchanged passwords are incredibly easy to guess and hack into. (If your name is Bob and your birth year is 1968 don’t make your password Bob1968.)
With the brilliance of social media comes the incredibly public nature of most of your private information. A hacker could pretty easily figure out your name, find you on socials and put together enough combinations of your name and date of birth to hack your accounts quickly and easily. So use a little more creativity and update your passwords periodically to make hacking harder.
3. You don’t secure your Wi-Fi network or you use public Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi networks are really easy entry points to your computer, accounts and network. If you offer free Wi-Fi for your clients, do it on a separate network than your own office network. And always make sure your Wi-Fi network is password protected.
If you use public Wi-Fi networks like those at airports or local coffee shops, use caution. Make sure you have updated security software installed and activated. Also avoid accessing highly sensitive data like your bank accounts or master admin accounts for your website.
4. You click on links in emails you don’t recognize. Likely, you already know that you shouldn’t open the email from the professed brother of the deposed king of Angola- that kind of spam and phishing email is easy to avoid. But what about the enquiries for the job you just posted on Gumtree? How legit are those emails? Are they submitting links in their email for you to access their online portfolio? Seems legit, right? And it probably is, but keep in mind your gut check when reviewing unknown emails. If something feels funny, don’t open it or click on it. Pay attention to suspect emails as more and more hackers are getting really sophisticated in the way they write them these days. If something seems out of place, or too good to be true, do some research before opening an email or clicking a link.
5. You download from unknown sites. Just don’t do it. Don’t download free printables, desktop wallpapers or music-streaming software from sites you don’t inherently know and trust. It’s a quick and easy way for hackers to infiltrate you system. If you have staff make sure you have a policy about unknown site downloading and if necessary consider investing in network software that won’t allow them the admin permissions to do it.