Cybersecurity Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Hackers, viruses, and scammers are just some of the menaces around online. Are you equipped to handle them in the worst-case scenario? Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be complicated. Learn about how you can stay safe online with our top tips and mistakes to avoid.

Innes McLean
May 4, 2021
Top Tips

What is cybersecurity?

The internet has shaped how we live our lives in so different ways.

We’re more dependent than ever on our digital lifestyle. From shopping and banking, to socializing and meeting new people. The internet has brought people closer and given us so many benefits.

On the other hand, it’s introduced new kinds of issues too. Syndicated crime has moved online, and the internet has enabled these dangers into our homes and digital lives.

The principle of cybersecurity is to protect against online threats.

Using different tools and methods, we can defend our computers and personal information. With good cybersecurity practices, we can rest easier and enjoy using the internet safely.

Why is cybersecurity important?

Many neglect to think about protecting their computers in the same way as their home or possessions. Without proper defense, cybersecurity threats can cause all kinds of trouble.

They can vary from being a mild nuisance to ruining your life. Viruses can range from slowing down your computer, to deleting all your files and attempting to infect more computers.

Some viruses known as ransomware will hold your computer hostage until extortionate fees are paid. Money can also be stolen by scammers phishing for your bank details.

And for organized crime, it’s most profitable to go for the big leagues.

In fact, a 2020 report by Verizon shows that the majority of data breaches were motivated by financial gain. And digital businesses are on the receiving end of most attacks.

Giving out confidential information, such as our bank details and addresses, to these businesses is a risk. So, it’s important for them to save it securely.

Gaining users’ trust is an important part of a business to be profitable. If businesses fail to protect their users’ data, they face distrust from customers and inevitable losses.

Further consequences can be criminal indictment and penalties. Facebook was fined $5 billion for not protecting the personal information of their users and a change in privacy laws was a result of this too.

For users, their details could end up on an online black market. Stolen banking details are sold to the highest bidders. Personal details are collected for identity theft and used to commit more fraud.

Still think it’s not that important to look after your data…?

Cybersecurity mistakes

Now we know about some of the consequences of cybersecurity issues, let’s take a look at how it can happen.

Here are the most common mistakes made.

Don’t worry, we’ll give you some tips on how to prevent them in the first place.

#1 – Lack of Knowledge

The biggest reason for cybersecurity mistakes is also the most general. Many people are blissfully unaware of the threats and issues caused by cybersecurity mistakes.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re already on the right path to improving your cybersecurity techniques.

Get into good practices for safeguarding your computers, devices and online profiles. Be mindful of your digital life and how your data is stored. At work, ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to security protocols.

We’ll get into more about good practices below.

#2 – Outdated Software

Using outdated and unsupported software is another big risk for cybersecurity threats.

Hackers or viruses can exploit vulnerabilities in software to access data. Developers are continually updating their software to protect it from being exploited. Without the latest updates, you leave yourself open to threats.

In 2020, Microsoft officially stopped supporting Windows 7 updates. With no further security updates, an estimated 100 million users are at risk from security threats to their operating systems.

Always ensure that you have the latest security patches for your software or operating systems. No software is ever going to be 100% safe. With the latest updates though, you’ll have the edge against the most current threats.

#3 – No Antivirus

Much like social distancing and wearing face coverings, prevention is one of the best measures.

Antivirus software helps to prevent malicious software from accessing your systems. If a threat has already breached your computer, these programs can detect and neutralize it. This software is also continuously updated to defend against potential new threats too.

Investing in strong Antivirus software is one of the best ways to prevent any further cybersecurity mistakes. Malware, spyware and hacking are just some of the threats this software can defend against.

Ensure you have antivirus for your computers and devices. Use a firewall for your work network to protect against external threats. Always encrypt your wireless connections and double check that any website handling your personal data has valid security certificates.

#4 – Weak Passwords

A study was completed by NordPass to find out the most commonly used passwords worldwide. These passwords were so weak that they were responsible for the majority of users’ data breaches.

Take a look at the list of most commonly used passwords and try not to laugh. It’s all fun and games until you see your own password though.

Interestingly, the password ‘password’ only came in at #4 on their list. Currently, the #1 most used password used is ‘123456’.

With weak passwords, your systems can be breached in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

Using the same password across different sites is also an issue  If one password is exposed, your data is at risk. And the risk increases the more you use the same password.

Choose unique and strong passwords for different accounts. It can be difficult to remember multiple passwords, or even come up with new ones. Find a method of creating passwords so that you can remember them easily.

Use a sentence as password. This could be a line from your favorite poem or a memorable movie quote. We don’t recommend “Open Sesame”, however. If you really struggle to remember, write down clues instead of the password itself.

There are many great tools to help you with passwords too. Use a password manager to save your passwords. These applications can safely store your passwords collectively like a keychain. They can also generate strong, uncrackable passwords too.

Do a checkup now with Google to assess the strength of your accounts and avoid using the same password.

#5 – Clicking Unknown Links

Congratulations! You have been randomly selected to be win the latest iPhone / a brand new car / an all-expense paid vacation to Bali!

We’ve all seen some kind of message like this online or elsewhere. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Subtlety isn’t the strong point of these scams but there are some more convincing ones.

Cybercriminals are using more and more sophisticated methods in attempts to gain personal information. What may seem like a legitimate email, could actually be a carefully constructed scheme to deceive you.

Be cautious of emails or messages that do the following:

  • Ask for personal information, without the message being addressed to you
  • Pressure you with a threat or time limit
  • Urge you to reset your password, without you requesting this

Do not click any links in emails that may seem suspicious. Avoid downloading any software from unverified publishers. Verify the legitimacy of emails and the sender.

Genuine emails will never coerce you into handing out personal information such as passwords or bank details.

#6 – No Backups

When things go wrong due to cyber-attacks, you need a backup plan.

In the worst-case scenario, viruses and other malware can completely wipe out data on your systems. This is why it’s vital to have a backup copy of your data.

However, this is another case where people often forget or don’t act until it’s too late.

Schedule data backups regularly. With plenty of storage options available, it’s easy to get started. Invest in a hard-disk drive to back up large amounts of data. Ensure it can be encrypted and your data can easily be recovered from it too.

Cloud storage is another solution for safely backing up data online. There are many affordable options, and some are even available for free too. Cloud storage is a great choice as the servers storing your data have multiple layers of protection in storing and transferring your files.

Read more about backup strategies on our SyncGene blog here.

Staying safe with SyncGene

At SyncGene, we take cybersecurity seriously when it comes to ourselves and our users.

SyncGene complies with all General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), so you know your personal information is handled safely.

When using our sync services, your contacts and calendar information are never stored with us. Your details are encrypted and securely synchronized to your devices and services.

If using our backup features, we simply work as a go-between you and your connected Google Drive for backups.

SyncGene is the safest solution to stay in sync at work or home. Sign up and connect your work or personal computers using our secure online services.

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Innes McLean

Innes is a Copywriter with the SyncGene team.

His work combines his love of writing, technology, and helping others on their mission to learn.