Many people still don’t understand the dangers of an unsecured PC. It’s like leaving your home without locking the door, enabling anyone to enter and take whatever catches their eye.
The risks are the same if you’re careless with your computer. Failing to secure it gives potential hackers an easy way into the system, making stealing and misusing your data a walk in the park.
These are the top PC security mistakes users make and the tips for avoiding the pitfalls.
1. Using Weak Passwords
Passwords are the weakest link in cybersecurity. You can’t use your name, birth date, or other personally identifiable information and expect your accounts and data to be safe and secure. Potential hackers can quickly crack those combinations in password attacks.
Secure passwords are combinations of at least 12 varied characters, including upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.
The best practice is to use complex phrases that hackers can’t guess. You can complicate them further by using truncated words or dropping vowels (e.g., “scrty” instead of “security”).
2. Reusing Passwords Without Two-Factor Authentication
Reusing passwords can be detrimental to your PC security. Using the same password for multiple accounts puts all of them at risk because a potential cybercriminal only needs to crack a single password.
Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) if you don’t want to remember multiple passwords, but we still recommend different credentials for every account.
Another excellent solution is a password manager. It can generate random, complex passwords for all your accounts, storing them in a secure vault.
You only need to remember the master password or PIN or use your fingerprint to enable the manager to log you into connected accounts.
3. Avoiding or Disabling Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is an extra security layer every PC needs. It can prevent you from accessing malicious websites or downloading compromised files or apps, stopping malware programs in their tracks. Of course, antivirus might not be as helpful on certain occasions. For instance, such security programs can remove ransomware infections. However, users’ files will remain encrypted.
Many people don’t use it because they think it slows down their computers. That may have been the case decades ago, but the latest solutions require fewer resources when running scans, resulting in less CPU usage.
Other PC users temporarily disable their antivirus software to bypass its block regarding downloading specific apps or files. Hackers love those windows of opportunity to crawl into an unsecured system.
So, install reliable antivirus software, keep it up to date, and don’t disable it for a second.
4. Ignoring Software Updates
Ignoring software updates is like disregarding a smoke detector’s alarm; you know there’s smoke, but the lack of fire means you’re probably safe.
The latest software updates feature bug fixes to improve performance and user experience and security patches to eliminate vulnerabilities and protect data.
Although there’s no actual fire, postponing or ignoring those updates leaves security holes that potential cybercriminals crawl into, and you might not hear any alarm until it’s too late.
User Account Control (UAC) on Windows PCs is a fundamental security feature that prevents unauthorized changes to your computer.
Disabling it gives administrative access to all running apps, making it seamless for potential hackers to control your device. Keep it on, no matter how annoying the notifications may be.
6. Clicking Suspicious links
Phishing emails are some of the most prevalent cybersecurity threats. They contain malicious links that initiate browser-based script attacks or install malware without the target realizing it.
Never click on an email attachment without checking the email address to verify it’s legitimate. Don’t click through if you don’t know the sender and beware of pop-ups recommending unsolicited antivirus software or other solutions; they typically contain malware.
7. Plugging in an Unknown Flash Drive
Plugging an unknown flash drive into your computer could wreak havoc on your system. That portable device could contain a virus that spreads to your files and infects the entire network.
The same goes for inserting your flash drive into someone else’s PC.
They may not follow the latest security practices, so their compromised PC could infect your flash drive and computer.
8. Using Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks may be convenient, but they’re far from secure. They’re typically unencrypted, leaving a backdoor open for cybercriminals to enter and access all connected devices.
An excellent solution is a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This tool creates an impenetrable bubble around your internet connection, transmitting data through an encrypted tunnel. A VPN for PC also replaces your IP address with one of its servers, making it impossible for hackers to target you.
Many PC users take cybersecurity protection lightly, making mistakes that often lead to dramatic consequences, including identity theft and fraud.
Don’t give cybercriminals the upper hand. Avoid the pitfalls above and dig deeper into the matter to learn how to keep your data privacy and security intact.