Over recent years, cyber crime has rapidly established itself as one of the major problems for home users, businesses and governments all over the world. The threat is now considerable. Consequently, becoming cyber aware has been quickly moved up in the list of priorities. Even though this has led to improvements in defending against cyber attacks, far too many attempts are continuing to succeed. There are several possible explanations for this, with victims guilty of making errors that are resulting in cyber criminals being able to take advantage of vulnerabilities.

Optimism bias is still rife

A continuing problem plaguing the cyber security landscape is that of optimism bias. Many businesses are still of the mindset that they are too small to be attacked. They are reading the news regarding large scale attacks on well known organisations, and believe that attackers only target such businesses. Others believe that they have nothing that would be of interest to a hacker. These assumptions are misguided. Cyber attacks can be directed at anyone, no matter the size or value of a business or individual.

Too many flimsy passwords

The warnings are numerous for passwords to be made as strong as possible. Despite this, the number of people who continue to use weak passwords is astonishing. Generic, guessable passwords can be easily cracked by cyber criminals. As a result, many attacks are being allowed through. Another common issue is the use of the same password across several accounts, meaning access can be gained to all at the same time. Passwords should be made complex, and generated randomly. Users should also ensure that different passwords are created for each account they make, to extinguish the risk of collateral damage.

Delayed software updates

Many of us are guilty of this particular error. Software updates will usually pop up in the corner of a computer screen, normally when a person is midway through an important task. Therefore, a large percentage of people will select the ‘remind me later’ option, keen not to get distracted. The problem with that is that the option is often chosen through habit thereafter, meaning the update is not initiated. Consequently, this makes you more vulnerable, with cyber criminals always on the lookout for out-of-date systems to exploit.

Email complacency

Phishing emails are becoming increasingly common. Despite this, many are continuing to be fooled by such attempts. They are being made more convincing by cyber criminals, with many looking like they have been sent from well known, legitimate outfits. This is leading to individuals opening harmful links or attachments. However, there are several indicators to look out for, such as the email address of the sender, the creation of a sense of urgency or links to unrecognised sites or URL’s.