As our reliance on technology grows, so does our need for improved cybersecurity. With so much of our personal information stored in our devices, simply browsing online or enabling certain settings on your smartphone may be leaving you vulnerable to hackers.
Of course, most users aren’t well-versed in cyber security. However, you don’t have to be a tech expert to ensure your data is protected. Being aware of these issues and making a few easy changes to how you use your devices are great first steps toward better protection.
To help, we asked the leaders at the Forbes Technology Council to give us their tips on what issues to look out for so we can stay safe online and off.
1. Apple iCloud Restores
Anyone who has ever forgotten their iPhone passcode knows that they can still restore data from their past iCloud backups. Restores work this way because iCloud backups are not encrypted end-to-end; Apple encrypts them, enabling them to decrypt your backups, too! Users who prefer not to expose backup data to Apple can simply disable iCloud backups and encrypt iTunes backups locally instead.
2. Wi-Fi Hotspots
Wi-Fi hotspots are ubiquitous – from airplanes to coffee shops, guest networks and the like. Many Wi-Fi networks are easy to hack. Even easier is to set up a fake hotspot. Once you’re connected to an open network, all of your traffic can be snooped on. Use a VPN whenever and however you connect to a Wi-Fi network, even one that looks legitimate. This will keep your data safe from prying eyes.
3. Unread Terms & Conditions
Honestly, those warnings about reading the terms & conditions are well-deserved. You may not care about a specific company having access to a lot of your data, but with increasing cyber attacks, you should care about questionable third parties obtaining it. Monitor news about the services you subscribe to and try to be as aware as possible.
4. Two-Factor Authentication
So many sites (including large ones) get two-factor authentication (2FA) wrong. Websites should use 2FA apps or hardware, and they should not rely on texting or emailing one-time use codes. As a user, make sure to enable 2FA on every site that offers it (even if it’s a text/email authentication), and bug website owners to get 2FA right.
5. Unencrypted Media
If your laptop is lost or stolen, a thief may gain access to the data on your disk. On Mac, turn on FileVault to require a password to access your encrypted disk. Many Windows PCs ship with at-rest data encryption by default, but consider BitLocker for securing removable media like USB thumb drives.
6. Wireless Mice And Keyboards
Few people imagine their own wireless devices as an entry point for hackers, but in fact, a broad set of devices sold by top vendors are subject to “mousejacking,” allowing someone to take over a computer as long as they are within about a football field’s range away. If you’re in a sensitive industry like healthcare of finance, you might want to stick to wired keyboards and mice
7. Outdated Software
Out-of-date software is responsible for a large proportion of hacking-related breaches, and often even email-based attacks will use an exploit that can be addressed by a newer version. One of the easiest and most commonly overlooked ways users can protect themselves is to enable automatic updating for both their phone’s operating systems and applications
8. Phishing Emails
Simple and obvious, but phishing emails can be a huge issue among organizations. Some trivial tips to avoid issues with phishing emails are to 1) check the email address and verify the domain that the email is being sent from, 2) let colleagues know if you’ve spotted a potential phishing email, and 3) always review the context of the email before clicking anything
9. Human Error
IT security strategy is often focused on systems, processes, data protection, and encryption. However, the biggest security issues that are often unaccounted for deriving from human-related vulnerabilities such as an unwitting participant downloading malware to their device. A little training on IT security best practices for your staff can go a long way to preventing a breach caused by human error.
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