A Champion with the National Cybersecurity Alliance for Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Stinnett is proud to help individuals assess their cybersecurity needs by educating about six mistakes they may currently be making.

As our world becomes more connected and moves online, we encounter serious cyber threats more frequently. Cybersecurity awareness and rules to follow are not always widely known and Stinnett is here to help bridge the missing critical information gap. Continue reading to discover which mistakes you should avoid, and what steps you can take to stay cybersafe.

Avoiding Personal Responsibility
It might be tempting to think that your data is safe and that you don’t have to take many security measures; but taking even basic steps toward securing your personal data and devices will go a long way.

Most computers come with free security software, and simply keeping your computer up to date can do wonders for your long-term security. It’s also helpful to learn how to recognize scams or shady programs and spot suspicious activity online.

Consider adopting daily habits like checking your bank accounts for unusual transactions (and set up alerts from each bank while you’re at it). In addition, pay attention to your computer’s performance over time so you can notice any decreased performance or slower speeds, which might be signs of a virus.

Remember, the easiest mistake you can make with your personal security is to do nothing at all.

Not Reaching Out for Help
If something strange appears on your computer, or your systems aren’t running properly, have an IT professional run a diagnostic check and provide recommendations for antivirus, anti-malware and pop-up blocking software. Never assume that problems will just go away on their own.

Engaging with Potentially Malicious Messages
Beware of any emails or messages from unknown sources. Messages with incomprehensible writing and questionable links are usually worth reporting as a scam. Don’t forward chain emails, don’t download those attachments and don’t reply to these types of emails – chances are that’ll only loop you in for more of the same.

Even if you’re being cautious, shared computers pose a security threat as kids and other temporary users may not apply the same caution while online. Setting parental controls and site blockers can help ensure that even if you’re away from your computer, no other user will (accidentally) engage with spam links or scams.

You should also clean up your inbox regularly. It’s not enough to merely avoid scam emails by not clicking on them. It’s worth the extra effort to report any scams and delete the emails – you never know if someone who uses your computer will accidentally click a bad link.

Neglecting Passphrases and Privacy
Avoid becoming a cyber attack victim by creating lengthy passphrases and using a different one for each website or service you log in to.
Social media can be great for connecting to friends and family, but it’s also a place for the bad guys to exploit your information, take caution about the information you’re posting and uploading online. Review the privacy settings on your social media accounts and consider setting your non-business profiles to private and limiting who can see what you post.

Not Cleaning Out Your Old Files
Even if you have tons of storage available, you should still perform regular maintenance on your old files. With a cluttered computer, it’s harder to spot new files or programs that can be dragging your computer down or collecting your information. By keeping your files organized, it’s easier to recognize what you use regularly and back up your important files – such as family photos, financial or medical records and business data – often.

Not Reporting Issues
You can help prevent future problems for yourself and other users by reporting harassment, suspicious activity and scam profiles. Most social media platforms have this feature built into every post, but you can always contact a site administrator if there’s a problem. Gather up any evidence you may need, including taking screenshots, especially if there’s an ongoing issue. Even if you’re not engaging with a problematic person or account, your extra effort to report them can help keep everyone safer and more secure.

Quick Recap
While the world of cybersecurity may seem intimidating, a few simple steps can make all the difference:
• Take ownership over your own cybersecurity.
• Reach out to trusted experts with security questions you may have.
• Reject strange offers, requests, messages and links.
• Make your passphrases longer and don’t reuse them.
• Follow a basic hygiene routine for your devices and information – clean up your files.
• Keep your devices and software updated.
• Report any suspicious and/or threatening behavior.
• Get the basics down and you’ll feel empowered to use more technology and explore all it has to offer.