Are You Protecting Your Devices?
The holidays at this point are long gone. I’m sure if you had decorated, you may or may have not yet gotten around to tearing down your seasonal flare. But you may have started using a new device or gadget—maybe even have been connecting it up at work.
I’m sure receiving or purchasing your new computer (maybe done to avoid the headaches coming with Windows 7 End of Life!) or maybe a phone or tablet. Whatever you are now using, know that there are some risks that come with that new addition to your digital world. If you haven’t taken any precautions yet, note that the default state of shiny new computers offer very little protections when it comes to cybersecurity.
Today I want to go through 4 things to keep in mind when protecting your new devices. Connecting any new product straight onto the internet out of the box without taking any additional precautions might leave you vulnerable to hacking, cyberattacks and malicious activity—putting your data and your company’s network at risk.
Below are 4 simple guidelines to keeping those devices safe:
Consider A Strong Password
Many people think that criminals are good at cracking and hacking passwords. Hackers have super computers capable of iterating through attempt upon attempt—strong passwords aren’t useful anymore.
You are right that hackers have gotten better at cracking passwords. But what they’re good at and focusing on are easy to guess passwords. If you reuse passwords from personal accounts (think Facebook or other sites with major data breaches) or are using common passwords like ‘password’ or ‘123454321’, rest assured a hacker already is trying those passwords and can very easily crack your accounts. They also know what the default passwords are for many devices (think routers and firewalls for instance) and will easily bypass default configurations.
Note: if you aren’t sure if your network has devices misconfigured or configured with default passwords, experts recommend getting a network security assessment to find out these VERY easy to fix vulnerabilities.
To address password concerns, simply make sure you are no longer using default passwords, in favor of relatively complicated passwords that incorporate numbers or other characters. The longer the password is, in general the harder it is to crack. If you have many passwords to remember, consider storing them in a password vault.
Turn On Two-Factor Authentication
Experts are relying more heavily on two-factor authentication (2FA) in businesses and for personal use in 2020.
While strong passwords are a good first step to securing accounts, hackers still might be able to use brute force attempts at getting onto your device (and subsequently onto your network) through a password. They may also be able to phish you or one of your users and end up convincing you to type in your password to a malicious form.
That’s why security experts recommend using 2FA to ensure that you have a second barrier to attackers accessing your accounts and devices. Because even if hackers know your password, you are the only able to authorize access through a text message or email (in general text message 2FA are preferred over email in the event the hacker already has access to your email as a result of a successful phish).
Accept Those Updates
Smartphones, tablets, computers—even the Internet of Things—all regularly receive updates form the manufacturer. Most often, owners of these devices or machines put off installing updates (some folks consider them a waste of time or don’t understand why they’re needed).
Whenever an update is released, it’s for a critical reason. Most likely a result of a security flaw. These updates are typically created after someone has identified and published a major threat—threats that hackers read about and implement in their attacks (you can kind of think of a hacker as always looking for the easiest way in).
Cybersecurity experts suggest you ALWAYS be consciously looking for updates—often it is a good idea to have updates install automatically on personal devices to ensure you are always keeping up with these updates. On corporate networks, consider testing patches before applying them to all devices on your network (just to make sure there are no bugs affecting your work flows).
Before You Discard, Consider A Factory Reset
If you are finished with your tablet, phone, computer or other device, you should consider resetting it to factory defaults rather than keeping it around with data and apps with access to your accounts. A factory reset is probably one of the easiest ways to make sure personal devices are relatively clear of data. If you work in a field that houses lots of sensitive information or you know you have sensitive information on a device that you no longer need, best practice is to always wipe the drives free and destroy them.
Devices are becoming the norm in the workplace and many of them are personally owned. One of the easiest first steps in analyzing what’s on your network is getting a network security assessment.