Did you know that the best marketers in the world are cyber hackers? They use the same types of marketing tools and psychology as the big ad agencies do to entice you to let them into your home and business. Advertisers have spent years and billions of dollars training you to click on links, ads, and email offers. Hackers operate the same way, but without rules or boundaries. Throw online shopping habits into the mix, and your “click brain” is conditioned to click without thinking twice. To protect yourself at work and at home, you need to Untrain your Click Brain.
According to multiple security and government surveys, over 80% of security hacks are caused by staff error. That means end users like you are as much a piece to protecting your personal and business data as any product or software. There are several ways that you can be the first and last line of defense against hackers.
- Keep your security tools active – Disabling security features like antivirus, ad blockers, and “click to play video” settings allows malware into your world, even run automatically on your device. Is allowing your bank information to be stolen worth the risk of eliminating a step to watching cat videos?
- Changing Passwords Regularly –Hackers count on people using weak passwords without ever changing them. And, it’s likely you use that password for many different accounts. Change your passwords every 90 days using strong, complex passwords with multiple types of characters. Be sure to use different passwords for your accounts to minimize impact if one is stolen.
- Follow Policy. Does your company have policies for internet use, email, and data security? If so, be sure to follow them closely – they are in place for a reason. These policies are also a good rule of thumb for your personal data protection outside of work. Hackers are only as strong as your weakness, so reducing your vulnerabilities reduces your risk of attack.
- Slow Down. Take a closer, skeptical look at emails and ads. What are they asking you to do? What is the offer, the urgency, the context? If you are comfortable, then see who the email is from. Is the email address familiar and spelled correctly? As for ads…
- Don’t Click on Ads. EVER. Remember, hackers easily mimic legitimate ads. If you see an offer that interests you, open a new browser and do a Google search for the offer. If the offer is legitimate, go to the site via your search. Bad offers will either not show up in a search or the search will return complaints about the malicious ads.
Retraining yourself to use email and the internet safely can greatly reduce the risk of hackers affecting your business and personal data. Notice the word “reduce”. If you see something that looks out of place or if you have even the slightest doubt, take a screenshot and send it to your IT team. They’ll appreciate validating your simple request over having to clean up from a cyber attack every time.
For a complete End User Security presentation or more information on this topic, please contact our CMO Marc Winter via email firstname.lastname@example.org.