FutureFive NZ - Stop making these silly mistakes when it comes to cyber security

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Stop making these silly mistakes when it comes to cyber security

After the WannaCry saga, it is apparent that far too many citizens, businesses and governments are still making the same basic mistakes when it comes to cybersecurity.

Cybercrime has quickly become a major problem for businesses, governments and citizens internationally. While awareness around cybercrime is increasing, we're still making the same mistakes when it comes to cybersecurity, as a recent study by the Pew Research Center found.

Here are some of the most basic mistakes people make when it comes to security.

Email

People are still falling for the oldest trick in the book. Social engineering phishing scams are still a major cybercrime threat.

While cyber criminals are improving on these kinds of emails, and making them more and more authentic-looking, most are blatantly fake. Telltale signs include poor spelling, random email addresses and far-fetched claims that you've won millions of dollars, for example.

It’s important to carefuly check the recipient, the request, and perhaps most importantly: use some common sense. Be cautious of attachments, as they may carry malware. It's important to check file extensions and to only open files deemed safe and from legitimate sources.

Social media

Social media has quickly become the new favourite of cyber criminals eager to compromise people. This should come as no surprise, after a 2016 survey revealed that 58% of social media users did not know how to change their privacy settings.

Like with email, check the authenticity of the sender, the message and the link (which will likely be shortened). Beware of trending hashtags as many are now using them to trap unsuspecting Twitter and Facebook users trying to catch-up with the latest breaking news.

Attitude

Ignoring technology, culture is arguably the biggest issue with security right now, and has been for a long time. CEOs and consumers alike share the belief of “it won’t happen to me!”

This complacency is misguided, because no one is truly safe. This attitude can often result in poor security habits, and all it takes is a lazily-constructed password for everything to go pear-shaped.

Passwords

Generic, guessable passwords can be easily cracked, if you used the same password across multiple platforms you could be in deep trouble. It is becoming faster and easier for criminals to brute-force passwords as criminals increase their computing power or enlist the help of skilled hackers on the dark web.

Weak passwords, such as 123456, password, admin qwerty remain surprisingly common. 80% of all attacks involve a weak or stolen password.

It is important to create stronger, more cryptic passwords and utilise the help of a password manager to stay on top of them all.

Software updates

Across all of our devices, we’re constantly being notified of yet another software update - whether it’s for apps, operating systems or antivirus. As annoying as the constant reminders are, they’re there for a reason and people overlook their importance out of irritation.

Failure to update leaves you vulnerable to attack, as cybercriminals seek to exploit out-of-date systems. This was the case with the recent WannaCryptor ransomware worm that so publicly compromised Britain's National Health Service  and Spain's telco Telefonica, and spread to countries throughout Asia, to the United Arab Emirates and to at least a dozen more countries in Europe.

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