Current statistics puts the number at around 400k new pieces of malware detected by antivirus tools every single day. With such a large number of malicious software out there, this gives hackers a large amount of options when it comes to picking their targets. Users have a knack for making the same mistakes, which makes it easier to exploit them. Below is a rundown of 7 network security mistakes that users make, and what you should look to avoid, if you want to safeguard your data.
1. Using Old Versions of Apps
One fairly common vulnerability is the use of old versions of a specific program. There are a lot of tools and programs like PDF readers, Flash and Java that update automatically, but there are also a lot of programs that do not. Which means, it’s left up to you, to ensure that you’re running the latest versions of your programs. Outdated versions of software typically have exploits which are patched in later versions, so it’s in your best interest to keep things up to date, especially if you don’t want to be hacked.
2. Clicking On Unknown Links
A lot of users get caught up clicking on links that they shouldn’t. This is especially the case when it comes to downloading free photos to downloading music. When you click on a questionable link, it can lead to your system being infected with a malicious file. The end result of that could be a hacker gaining access to your personal affix, like credit card number, bank details, etc. To ensure the safety of your system, you want to make sure you only click on links, on the most reputable sites. Generally secure links are usually clearly placed, and optimally positioned on a page, whether it’s a website or Google Search. But if you’re not 100% certain, then just don’t click on the link at all.
3. Not Using Encryption
When dealing with sensitive data, like credit card details and banking affix, it’s very important that encryption play a role in the process. When storing and transferring data, you have to be certain that it’s encrypted, otherwise anyone can easily snipe that information. I recommend you dig deeper into this subject, but to get things started, I’d say, start with some kind of VPN services.
4. Using Windows XP
Windows XP is well past its sell by date, with latest security reports by Microsoft showing that a significant portion of XP machines (at 4%) contain virus – even those running antivirus software on them. This pales in comparison to Windows 8, at 0.02% of machines. So you are at least two hundred times more likely for your system to be infected with a malicious file, when running Windows XP. This is because of the many known security leaks and exploits that were/are patched on later versions of Windows, but not on Windows XP. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in April 2014, so we can only assume that things will get worse, as time progresses.
No matter where you are on the internet, you can expect to find some kind of login page, sign up notification or registration page. A large number of users like to stick with the same password, no matter what they sign up to. The main problem with this, is if one of your passwords are compromised, then that hacker has immediate access to all your accounts. You can make matters even worse, by using a password that is not complex, making it possible for hackers to brute force attack it. Using middle names, birth days, and dictionary words, are things you should stay away from.
6. Leaving Your Webcam Enabled
Webcam hacks personify what it means for ones privacy to be violated. There are malicious programs that hackers can use to control your system remotely, allowing them to enable your webcam with your knowledge. Unlike with your other network-enabled devices, your webcam isn’t protected in the same way, so you will need to be able to determine when your camera is switched on. Usually a light will appear to indicate this. You could use a piece of paper to block the webcam, but the audio will still go through, which is why it’s best to just disable it, in Device Manager, when you’re not using it.
7. Disabling User Account Control Features
Windows comes with its own User Account Control (UAC) features, which comes with its own shortcomings. Constant popups is enough to make anyone want to do anything to make them go away. However, having them enabled is important, as they monitor your system and let you know when any changes are being made to it. They also give you a certain level of control over updates. If you disable this feature, you’re essentially giving hacker’s free reign to do whatever it is they want, once on your computer. Thus, for security purposes, you want to ensure that you have as many security tools and features enabled on your system, as is feasible.