As a non-technical person working in the cybersecurity industry, I often find myself asking, “Do I need to be worried about [insert novel threat]?” I am almost always pleased to learn that the experts have considered these threats and created simple protective measures so that no, I do not necessarily need to be worried about [insert novel threat]. In taking a few simple precautions, you might never need to worry about these intimidating cyber risks ever again!
- Weak Passwords & Password Reuse – Secure passwords are long, complex, unique, and impossible to remember! As you create accounts for various sites and applications, it can be tempting to fall back on a reliable password from deep within your long-term memory. Reusing weak passwords increases the risk of malicious actors brute-forcing your password, or finding your credentials stored in an online database. Fortunately, password managers, like LastPass, will remember for you, and even generate secure passwords across your devices for free! Password managers allow you to create more complex passwords, avoid reuse, and prevent account lock-outs. Install the browser extension for your password manager of choice, and use one password to access all of your credentials securely.
- Credit Card Breaches – Large-scale data breaches have become an assumed risk for online shoppers. Digital marketplaces are only becoming more common, and these breaches impact so many customers that they can start to feel inevitable. However, there are a few measures to reduce your risk of exposure and potential damage. Firstly, only conduct financial transactions with reputable sites. Larger companies have the resources and incentives to protect their users’ security, and most large companies are regulated by the payment card industry (PCI) compliance standards. Secondly, when making purchases online, avoid using a debit card or linking any payment directly to your bank account. Credit cards with insurance will not hold you liable for fraudulent charges, so you will likely be reimbursed for any loss associated with your stolen information.
Information security threats exist offline, as well. Attackers are known to place cameras and card skimmers over legitimate card readers to steal your information. This type of hardware is commonly used during self-serve transactions, such as gas pumps or ATMs. Try to use a credit card rather than a debit card, and examine the card slot before using it to identify any superficial pieces that may have been added with malicious intent.
- Wi-Fi Attacks – Wi-Fi networks are easily visible and relatively vulnerable to attack. However, the average person’s home Wi-Fi set-up is not enticing enough to pique a hacker’s interest. Given this low threat-level, a long (16-24 character), complex (randomly generated) password is all you need to protect your home network! Even on public Wi-Fi connections, most modern sites encrypt your connection, so you don’t really need to worry about losing your credit card information through a hotel’s Wi-Fi connection. Our experts recommend using a virtual private network (VPN) for additional security when connecting to public Wi-Fi. A strong password for your home network and a VNP for public connections are generally enough to keep your wireless activity private and secure.
The world of technology evolves so quickly that it can be easy to fall out of touch with the latest threats and current security recommendations. At ProCircular, we believe that fear is the mind killer, and we have found that relieving some of that uncertainty around online privacy can provide clarity for large organizations as well as individuals. Developing an awareness of genuine cybersecurity threats and recommendations is the first step toward keeping yourself protected!