24 Jun

How to Break These Common IT Security Bad Habits

Posted by John Brandwagt

Bad habits in the work place can sometimes slow down productivity—but no bad habit can do quite as much damage to a company as the ones that involve IT security. With proper cyber security becoming more important by the day, it’s now crucial for tech workers to have the best practices to ensure that they keep their organization free from hacks, data loss, and theft.

Luckily, these common IT security bad habits are pretty easy to break—you just need to know where to start. Here are just a few things that you can do to educate yourself on the best practices for keeping your business safe.

Don’t Fall Into a Password Rut

Password fatigue happens to the best of us. When you have a hundred different programs and a few dozen logins to remember, it’s pretty easy to fall into the bad habit of using the same password for multiple accounts. It’s the least complex of the IT security dangers, but can often be the most damaging when things go wrong.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: password management apps are becoming more sophisticated and easier to use, and oftentimes they’re already built right into your smartphone. Not only will these apps generate random secure passwords for you, they’ll also encrypt and remember them so you don’t have to.

Beware the Unfamiliar Attachments

It’s a simple rule that’s been around since attachments have existed, but scrutinizing every single one that you click on is one of the best IT security habits you can get into. Cyber criminals are much more sophisticated than they used to be, and are now able to craft messages that are much more convincing than ever before. Even users that you trust can unknowingly send you harmful files, so educating yourself is the number one way to avoid this issue. Make sure that you hover your mouse over links and hyperlinks in emails before clicking on them, and double check before downloading any attachments that you weren’t expecting.

Don’t Wait to Update

For a lot of businesses, it’s not practical to engage in a large patch or software update that could slow down productivity for hours. However, once these updates are released, it’s a race for cyber criminals to exploit the vulnerability and cause serious harm to organizations. Adopting a patch management solution that updates automatically can help you keep on top of your updates, keeping your hardware safe and up to speed on the best security patches.

Free Wi-Fi; Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Free public Wi-Fi can be like finding an oasis in a desert. Sometimes a coffee shop or airport with Wi-Fi that you can easily connect to is the only solution to your internet woes—but like most things that are both “free” and “public,” it’s not always the safest practice to engage in. Even connecting to a free network for a brief amount of time can expose you to a disproportionate amount of risk, making it an unpredictable practice for just a small reward.

If you don’t want to leave your devices exposed, consider mandating the use of a VPN, or virtual private network. This way, traffic will be encrypted and browsing sessions will be much more secure. VPNs also cloak your computer’s actual IP address—or even change your IP address to pretend that you’re from somewhere else—making it much harder for hackers and spies to traffic you online. Users with sensitive data should consider VPNs crucial if they’re travelling or working away from the office.

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Topics: IT Security

John Brandwagt

John is a Practice Leader at Inteqna. He’s been working in IT Search in Calgary since 1997. He works best with selective job seekers—those who excel at what they do and enjoy their current jobs. Since they don’t have time to look for themselves, he helps them find their dream jobs. From a client perspective, he helps organizations find the talent that will propel their business. John is involved in several of Calgary’s technical user groups and has held board roles in non-profit groups. He is a single dad of four boys who try to beat him at every physical activity from hiking to rugby.

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