There’s a certain level of security that people expect, even demand, whether it’s in their home or vehicle. But when it comes to computers, most people are very negligent of it, and think it’s not really necessary. People are very careless when it comes to using their computers. There is no real concrete reason why, but observers have noted that the average end user and even some IT departments, tend to be very silly, when it comes to protecting data on their computer systems.
Below are a number of errors that a lot of computer users are known to make. Even some IT professionals are guilty of making these errors. So these are some things you should be aware of, especially if you want to ensure the security of your computer system.
1. Ignoring Security Updates
It’s not uncommon for an operating system to have security holes. All software has its flaws. Once one of these holes has been spotted, you can be sure that they will be exploited, by a hacker, in very little time. It’s for this reason why it’s so important that you ensure the latest security patches and updates are installed on your system.
2. Using an Unfamiliar USB Stick
Backing up the data on your computer, is an integral process, however, it’s very important that you take extra care when inserting any sort of USB drive into your computer. These external devices can have malicious files on them, and it only takes a couple of seconds for your system to be infected, once you plug the device into your computer.
You want to ensure that any device that you attach to your computer is thoroughly scanned before any data is accessed from it. As this will go a long way in ensuring the safety of your computer data.
3. Opening Phishing Emails
Around 80,000 computer users fall prey to phishing scams, every single day. These phishing emails can be quite difficult to spot, for the novice or beginner, but for a more experienced user there are many tell-tell signs. Most email accounts come with spam filters, that are designed to catch these emails, but they are not fool-proof, so it’s incumbent on you, to take the necessary steps, when opening any email. Anything that seems alarmist, asking you to click on a link, update your banking details or anything of the like, is usually a dead giveaway.
4. Accessing a Public Wi-Fi Network
If you ever log onto a public Wi-Fi network, it’s very important that you do not attempt to access any of your personal information, while on it. You can be almost certain that the network will not be secure, and in worse case situations, the whole thing could be a trap.
Cybercriminals know that end users expect to find a network they can log into, while at their local café, and so, they may create a network, naming it appropriately, with the hopes of getting you to accidentally log into it. The moment you log into this network, you could be granting the hacker full access to your computer system, including your passwords and personal data.
Want to check your tax return or pay a bill? Then I recommend you do it behind the safety of your own home network.
5. Not Utilising Encryption
When dealing with online banking, it’s very important that you have some kind of encryption in place. When you store and transfer data that is unencrypted, you leave that data open for everyone to visualise. If you don’t know how to properly implement encryption technology, then you should seek the help of someone who does.
6. Lack of Sufficient Education
It’s very important that you have the necessary education in how to read emails, open attachments and download things. You also need to have some insight into all the different threats out there. Computer users that lack basic computer education are those who are most likely to fall victim to phishing scams, spyware, worms and viruses; threats that are designed to steal personal information while corrupting your computer in the process.
7. Using Weak Passwords
If you use passwords that are not complex, then you leave yourself vulnerable to brute force attacks. A brute force attack is basically a piece of software that attempts to guess your password by using a combination of possible words and phrases. The simpler your password is, the easier it is for the software to guess. Complex passwords on the other hand, are virtually impossible to brute force attack.
8. Leaving Your Webcam Open
Webcam hacks are real and can pose a very uncomfortable and scary proposition for anyone who falls victim to them. There are certain malicious files that are capable of giving a hacker remote access to your computer, allowing the hacker to enable the webcam, as and when they please. The camera on your laptop for example, doesn’t have the same level of protection as other network-enabled devices, so it’s up to you to be able to spot when your camera is actually turned on – this is usually indicated with a light.
Just use masking tape to cover it, and since it doesn’t have any audio, you needn’t worry about anything else. Alternatively, you can disable the device from the operating system.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk/.