6 Habits That Increase Chances of a Data Breach

The “faceless hacker” is not always the biggest threat to personal or company information. Rather, your own bad habits, or those of employees, often open the door to vulnerabilities. A lax attitude concerning software updates and new passwords eventually creates pathways for outside parties to enter and steal financial or personal data. Avoid these six habits:

Poor Password Practices

Easy-to-guess passwords and using the same ones for multiple logins is one quick recipe for a data breach. Look out for these bad habits:

  • Keeping a list of passwords on your desk, underneath the mouse pad or in a drawer
  • Using one password for multiple devices, interfaces, software programs or users
  • Not changing the default password for all hardware and software
  • Reusing old passwords
  • Using weak, short passwords that do not incorporate lower and uppercase letters
  • Giving out passwords over the phone or email

The following practices reduce your chances of a data breach:

  • Never store hard copies of passwords. Instead, use a password manager.
  • Do not keep rotating the same passwords, as breaches often leak old passwords onto the “dark web”.
  • Encourage your employees to use unique, strong passwords for all devices and software. Do the same for your personal devices.
  • Change passwords every 90 days to something completely unique each time.

Emailing Sensitive Information

Try to keep information and documents encrypted. For incoming emails, lessen the number of suspicious messages in your inbox with virus and malware scanning software and anti-phishing technology. For your employees, hold periodic training sessions on email safety best practices, including what types of threats to avoid.

Sharing Information on Social

Never share personal information on your social media profiles – for instance, phone number, address or birthday – and do not accept requests from people you don’t know. This information could be used to spoof your account or commit identity theft. Also, do not post you’re away from home and be mindful of sharing photos while on vacation. This could reveal to someone the opportune time to break into your home. 

Forgetting Software Updates

Patching, otherwise known as making software updates, is required by business networks and personal users to address and stop the latest vulnerabilities to operating systems and applications. Unfortunately, many individuals and commercial entities take their time making these changes. Cyber criminals often try to hack these patches when they are introduced to capitalize on the fact your network and data may be vulnerable.

Connecting Multiple Devices Over a Network

When you connect a wide range of devices to one network, your risk multiplies. It’s easy to forget certain devices on an expansive network and that neglect turns into a gateway for criminals to steal data, hijack devices or harass you in your home or office.

For these reasons, be selective about which devices you add to your office or smart home and stay on top of security updates.

Relying Strictly on Antivirus

No single program solves all your network security woes but unfortunately, many small businesses and individual users believe an antivirus program is all they need. While it might block some malware and attacks, no solution is entirely comprehensive and foolproof.

As such, get in the habit of making your own updates and staying aware of security breaches and social engineering trends. If you have the funds, consider contracting a network security professional to periodically address these issues.

Where data breach coverage is concerned, insufficient network security could impact your business insurance rates. To learn about more cyber security best practices or to discuss your coverage with an agent, give us a call at 203.439.2815