People are often the weakest link in the chain when it comes to online security. We may convince ourselves:

"I’m not going to be the target of a scam.”

“Nobody’s going to hack my account, so I don't need to create a unique password or install this latest security update.”

“I don’t have time for this. I want into my account with fewer steps.”

If you’ve said something like this to yourself, don’t be a cybersecurity sloth. It’s better to spend a few seconds on additional security steps than to go through the headaches and potential problems if you are the target of a scam.

Responses to our Cybersecurity Quiz show how easy it is to fall victim to security fatigue and ignore stronger safety measures and steps. Bad guys also know all of this and that’s where they target. 

The Quiz questions most frequently answered “incorrectly” all point to people’s avoidance of common security actions either out of convenience or laziness. Here are also the top four things you can do to improve security quickly:

1.       2FA

Quiz Question: Have you turned “on” two-factor or multiple factor authentication on your accounts that allow it? (48% say “No”)

As threats from hacking, phishing, and other types of online fraud become increasingly more sophisticated, two-factor authentication (2FA) is an important way to increase account security.

But many people are skipping this simple, effective online security solution by ignoring two-factor authentication (2FA). It usually boils down to convenience. People want access to their accounts as quickly as possible with the least amount of work. Waiting for and entering a PIN code or completing a phone call authorization simply is too much hassle.  Laziness and impatience lead to a weakening of their account protections.

Enabling 2FA may add seconds to the log-in process, but it also adds a layer of security to your account to help prevent stress and wasted time down the road. 

2.       Unique passwords

Quiz question: Do you use a different password for each account or device log-in? (42% say “No”)

We don’t use the same key for our car, our home and our office. Losing that one key could give a bad guy everything we own. So why would we do that with our online accounts? 

Using strong passwords to protect your accounts is the first line of online security defense. Don’t make it easy for someone to take over your bank, credit card and social media accounts. 

While it may seem like extra work, taking a few moments to create a unique password for each site and account you have can protect you from frustration and pain in the future. A password manager can help you keep them safe, organized and easy to access.

3.       Installing and updating anti-virus programs

Quiz question: Have you installed and kept current security/malware protection software on your devices, including computers, phones, or tablets? (43% say “No”)

To maintain a secure system, it is important to install and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.  However, to some it’s frustrating and too time-consuming to update their security software. They may be comfortable with the current set-up and don’t want it to change, or they don’t feel it’s necessary to install every update.

Remember, bad guys exploit those small security gaps that can often be fixed by a simple update that only takes a few minutes. 

4.       Increasing security settings on apps, accounts and devices

Quiz Question: Have you selected increased privacy and security settings on your accounts and apps? (43% say “No”)

These days, there are apps for everything. We use apps to post photos, exercise, pay bills, and more. With new apps available every day, bad guys are looking to take advantage with their own bad apps. A simple way to best the bad guys is to enable ‘auto updates’ for your apps and download a security protection app.

You can also add an extra layer of security to many online accounts by creating a “passcode” on accounts that offer it, and changing any default passcodes to stronger ones. AT&T customers can learn about adding a passcode to their account for extra security here.

Also be sure to use “unlock” codes to allow access to your devices when they’ve gone to sleep. Bypassing this step removes an important first layer of security.

As with passwords, create unique codes and passcodes for different accounts and devices. And don’t keep them in a filed called “passwords” or on sticky notes around your desk. These added measures increase protection and help you keep control of what’s yours. 

The Bottom Line

While adding layers of security and strengthening security measures may seem “easier said than done,” these small things can make a difference and help you avoid potential problems. Ask yourself, isn’t it better to spend a few seconds now to save yourself from major headaches down the road?