In this internet-driven world, not a day goes by without a headline screaming that some app or service has experienced a data breach, putting its users and visitors at risk. To keep yourself out of the news, it’s important to understand the most common causes of data breaches and what you can do to mitigate the threats they present.
Weak and Stolen Credentials, a.k.a. Passwords
Hacking attacks may well be the most common cause of a data breach but it is often a weak or lost password that is the vulnerability being exploited by the opportunist hacker. Stats show that 4 out of 5 breaches classified as a “hack” are caused by weak or lost (stolen) passwords. Therefore, use complex passwords and never share passwords.
Stolen passwords are one of the simplest and most common causes of data breaches. Far too many people rely on predictable phrases like ‘Password1’ and ‘123456’, which means cyber criminals don’t even need to break into a sweat to gain access to sensitive information.
Even moderately secure passwords can be cracked with the help of computer programmes that run through millions of the most popular credentials, so you need to think hard to create something original whenever you choose your password. You’re also vulnerable if you leave your password written down or use the same phrase for multiple accounts.
Back Doors, Application Vulnerabilities
Hackers love to exploit software applications which are poorly written or network systems which are poorly designed or implemented, they leave holes that they can crawl straight through to get directly at your data.
All software has technical vulnerability that crooks can exploit in countless ways. That’s why the organizations that maintain those programs routinely look for and address exploits before they are discovered by criminals.
The moment a vulnerability is fixed, the software provider releases an update, which needs to be applied by the users that use the application. This must be done promptly, because crooks – now alerted to the vulnerability – will be actively looking for users that are still exposed to the threat.
The use of both direct and in-direct Malware is on the rise. Malware is, by definition, malicious software: software loaded without intention that opens up access for a hacker to exploit a system and potentially other connected systems.
Malware is a perfect example of just how simple cyber crime can be. Crooks purchase a piece of malicious software, find a system that contains a known vulnerability, plant the malware and scoop up the rewards.
What those rewards are depends on the type of malware. It could be anything from a keylogger, which tracks what a user types into a machine, to ransomware, which locks a system and demands payment for the user to regain access.
How to Prevent data breaches?
A few best practices to avoid a data breach include the following:
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How can you improve your Security by using Signal Private Messenger?
Signal on its own is a highly secure end-to-end encrypted communication service, users can improve the security by taking advantage of some of its options. On Android, select the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner and choose “Settings.” On iOS, select your picture or first letter of your user name. On the next page, choose “Privacy.”
Under the Privacy menu, you’ll find a few options to improve your security. The first is “Screen lock,” which requires you to authenticate yourself to access the app either using the fingerprint/face scanner or your lock screen code. Choose the toggle next to “Screen lock” to activate this feature.
You can adjust the time before the app gets locked and requires authentication using “Screen lock inactivity timeout.” For those looking to maximize security, the lowest time on Android is one minute. When set, after you leave the Signal app for one minute, it will be locked and require authentication to see your messages. iOS users can set this to instant so that it locks as soon as you leave the app.
Enable “Registration Lock” (known as Registration Lock PIN on Android). This feature adds a PIN to your account to prevent someone who knows your phone number from registering on Signal. Once enabled, you create a PIN code of 4 to 20 digits which you must input at the time of registering Signal to a new phone.
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