Browsing the Internet has become as common as driving your car or eating breakfast – it’s something that the majority of us do on a daily basis. Unfortunately, some bad habits have been created and you may not even realize that some of your actions are actually dangerous.
7 Common Activities and Actions That Put You at Risk
It’s critical that you protect your online security, so if you’re doing any of the following 7 common actions, it’s important to make immediate changes. If your information is compromised, you could be left with a serious virus or financial issues.
- Remaining ‘signed in’ on public computers
Do you often use a public computer at school, work, or at the library? If so, never check the option to remain signed in. If you are not on your own personal laptop, it’s recommended that you always sign out. Even if your work computer feels like it’s your own personal space, you are not always at your desk.
Take it one step further – clear your browser history to protect your privacy even further. Also, whenever your browser asks you to save passwords, select no – especially for sites such as eBay, Google, Amazon, or any other site that may hold financial or sensitive information.
- Not updating certain programs and software
If you do not update Java, Adobe Reader, or Adobe Flash, you can actually expose yourself to a number of PC viruses. Whenever possible, update important software programs and make changes to your current settings. If you sign in, Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash have an option to automatically let you know when there’s an update. You can also search for Java updates daily, instead of bi-monthly. You should also be updating your windows operating system to stay on top of the most common security-related features.
- Playing online games
There are plenty of safe online games, but unfortunately, many also increase your risk of security breaches. When playing interactive games with other online gamers, do not give out any personal information. At the end of the day, you have no idea who’s sitting on the other end of your computer screen. You should also be cautious when downloading free games, as they can increase your risk of viruses and Trojans. Once a Trojan has been downloaded, hackers can often access your data.
- Not adjusting Facebook settings
Facebook is the most popular social network – as millions of people login in each and every day. You should be aware of your Facebook privacy options and if you haven’t already, review your current settings. Tighten and strengthen each setting – especially those which expose your information to people you don’t know. Avoid adding or accepting ‘friends’ that are strangers, as they can then access personal information, such as your birthday or phone number. This type of information can be used in an attempt to seek financial data.
- Connecting to unknown, non-secure Wi-Fi networks
Sure, you may want to check your email or Facebook when you’re at the mall, but in public places, you increase your risk of compromised security. In places such as airports and hotels, there’s often options to connect to an unknown wireless network. Hackers can essentially gain access to these networks, spying on your activity. Do not transfer any files or discuss personal information on these networks – better yet, do not use them.
- Using the same login information for various online accounts
Do you have one username and password that you use for everything? Although this is the easiest route, it’s not the safest. If your information leaks due to a poorly secured site, your other accounts can then be compromised. For each account, select a unique password. If you have a hard time remembering, write all the information down and leave it in a secure location.
- Spending time on sketchy sites
Whether you’re visiting obscure auction sites, porn sites, or gambling platforms, these types of websites are less secure than mainstream sites. Be VERY suspicious of downloads or required installations. These sites may also be selling your information to other sites and companies. For those who are gambling online, you’re unfortunately a target for hackers looking to make a quick buck. Also, make sure you read the full terms and conditions before entering any personal data.
Everyone has the same mentality – it won’t happen to me. Everyone online is at risk, however, you can significantly reduce your chances of compromised online security by taking action today. Change what you can and manage what you can’t. As long as you’re aware and continue to protect yourself, you can maintain your online privacy.
Khetarpal, A. (2010). The Top Ten Most Dangerous Things You Can Do Online. Retrieved on January 21st, from http://gizmodo.com/5614047/the-top-ten-most-dangerous-things-you-can-do-online
Mediati, N. The 17 Most Dangerous Places on the Web. PC World. Retrieved on January 21st, 2016, from http://www.pcworld.com/article/206107/most_dangerous_places_on_the_web.html