TWT Blog

8 IT Security Mistakes You Never Want to Make

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Everyone makes mistakes. It’s part of being human. Unfortunately, making an IT security mistake can come with major consequences, like a password breach, computer hack or leak of sensitive data. Luckily, these common security problems are usually easy to fix.

Here are the most common IT security mistakes we see regularly and how to fix them:

Having a weak password (or none at all) and security question

Many people choose the same password: password, 1-2-3-4 or their dog’s name. Others choose to bypass choosing a password at all, thinking they don’t need one or they’ll do it later. The answer to your security question may be your hometown or your mother’s maiden name. These are simply too easy to crack. All of these choices leave you vulnerable when you don’t have to be.

THE FIX: Consider using a password generator and a password saver like LastPass.

Writing down passwords on pieces of paper or sticky notes

People tend to write down their passwords on whatever scraps of paper they can find, usually a sticky note or the back of an envelope. They often stick these notes directly to their monitors or put the piece of paper in their desk drawer. This is almost like not having a password at all, because it’s so easy for someone to find. This mistake makes it far too easy for someone to access your account.

THE FIX: Stop writing down your passwords on paper. Store them using LastPass

Not installing antivirus software or turning it off because it slows down your computer

It’s easy to believe that you don’t need antivirus software anymore, especially if you use a Mac, but you do. If you’re annoyed that your computer is slow while it’s running, try uninstalling some other programs you don’t use every day. We can also help you choose a machine that best suits your needs.

THE FIX: Choose antivirus software that works best with your computer and won’t slow it down.  

Taking risks with email

These mistakes include opening email attachments from unknown sources and sharing highly sensitive information (such as passwords or credit card numbers). Opening a suspicious email attachment leaves you open to a virus or computer hack. Sharing personal information leaves you or your business vulnerable to identity theft.

THE FIX: Stop sending sensitive data over email. Stop it right now. Consider using a tool like Google Drive and then send the data as a link. The recipient will have to log in before accessing the file.

Leaving your machine on with the screen unlocked and walking away

As most of us don’t log out of our email accounts every time we get up from our computers, an unlocked screen gives just about anyone access to your account. You may have also failed to close the tabs holding your online banking or your company’s bookkeeping system. You’re especially vulnerable if you regularly do this in a public place.

THE FIX: Always lock your computer before leaving it. Set up your computer to automatically lock after a certain amount of time passes (one minute, five minutes or 10 minutes).

Failing to install Operating System and application patches and updates

We’ve all hit “not now” or “ask me later” when our computer prompts us to install an update. But these updates and patches are vital in protecting your computer from evolving threats. Essentially, it keeps your computer healthy.

THE FIX: Always install the updates when they pop up. Deliberately check for updates at least once a week. If you’re confused about how to do this, just send us an email.

Not putting a solid, reliable and tested backup in place

Servers fail. Computers crash. Phones get lost. You need to have a tested backup system in place before any of this happens, ideally with a trustworthy cloud storage provider.

THE FIX: Install a backup system you feel comfortable with in case there’s a hack, virus, flood or fire.

Letting untrained, uncertified people take responsibility for securing important systems

Not everyone is an IT expert even if they know what a security group is. Security is a combination of many moving parts, and if even one part isn’t set up properly the rest might not even matter. Employees are some of the biggest security threats to a business, either through a malicious action or an inadvertent error. Let someone who is a trained security professional take charge.

THE FIX: Hire a trusted managed IT services provider. Ask for their credentials. Interview their other clients.

Worried you may be making an IT security mistake and don’t know how to fix it?

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Image via Flickr Creative Commons.

Topics: Security