Are you more likely to get hacked because of something you're doing wrong or not doing at all? Is there something that a hacker or a scammer is looking for in a target? What makes someone an easy target?
Let's take a look at 5 common mistakes you might make that could result in you getting yourself hacked:
Common Mistake #1 - Using the Same Password for Multiple Accounts
You should avoid using the same password on multiple accounts if at all possible.
Sure, using the same password for multiple accounts seems like a great way to save you from having to remember so many passwords, but If a hacker hacks one of your accounts, or your account and password are involved in a data breach, a hacker is likely to try your compromised password to gain access to other accounts you might have elsewhere.
If you are using the same password across multiple accounts, such as your email account and your bank account, then they can compromise those other accounts with little to no effort required on their part.
Use a unique and strong password for each of your accounts to help prevent hackers from leveraging one password to compromise multiple accounts.
Common Mistake #2 - Using Weak or no Wireless Encryption on Your Wireless Network
If you have a wireless network in your home and aren't encrypting it or are using weak encryption, then you're basically letting anyone and everyone have access to the Internet connection you're paying your hard earned money for. You're also helping potential hackers by allowing them an avenue for eavesdropping on your network traffic or doing bad things that will get traced back to your connection.
You might have encryption turned on, but you might be using the outdated and extremely hackable WEP-based encryption. WEP is easily cracked by most hackers and is pretty useless as a form of protection.
Consider implementing WPA2-based encryption with a strong SSID name and a strong pre-shared key (wireless network password). You can learn more about WPA2 in our article on implementing wireless encryption.
Common Mistake #3 - Responding to Pop-up Messages and/or Unsolicited Emails
Clicking links in unsolicited emails and pop-up messages is often a very quick route to having your computer infected with malware. Treat all unsolicited emails with a high degree of suspicion.
Be leery of any and all pop-up messages. Even innocuous looking pop-ups may be clickjacking attempts in disguise. Turn on your browser's pop-up blocking feature and also consider using a browser plug-in such as NoScript to protect yourself from malicious pop-ups.
Common Mistake #4 - Using Unpatched OS and Applications
The timely application of security patches is extremely important these days. Hackers and cybercriminals are counting on the fact that many of their potential victims likely have unpatched vulnerabilities present on their systems.
Hackers will exploit these vulnerabilities to gain entry into a victim's computer. The sad thing is that these kind of attacks are often preventable if the user keeps his or her system patched with the latest available security patches.
Turn on your operating system's "auto-update" feature so that your computer can automatically install security patches as soon as they are made available from your OS vendor.
Set yourself a recurring calendar reminder to check for security updates for your non-OS applications as well. Be especially vigilant maintaining apps and browser plug-ins that have a lot of interaction with the Internet, such as Adobe Flash, Acrobat, Java, etc.
Mistake #5 - Turning Off Security Features
Sometimes users will disable their entire firewall because they are having trouble with a particular application connecting to the Internet. Rather than troubleshooting the problem, they might just disable the firewall altogether in order to get the application working. They may forget to turn the firewall back on once they've finished with the application, or they may decide that the trouble that they thought the firewall was causing isn't worth the protection it was providing.
Antivirus protection is sometimes another thing that frequently gets turned off. Some people shut it off in hopes that turning it off will boost their computer's performance for a game or other resource intensive application.
These security features protect your computer and your data from harm. They are essential to your overall security, removing or disabling them is akin to removing the front door of your house just because you don't like the creaking sound it makes.
If security features or applications are causing you problems, try to find the root cause instead of just disabling your protection. If your virus scanner is slowing your system down, consider scheduling system scans to run in the middle of the night when you're not on your computer.