Are You Making These 5 Common Internet Security Mistakes?

Internet security mistakes to avoid

One of the most lucrative crimes practised today is cyber-crime. The majority of people today spend as much as several hours a day browsing the Internet either for work or fun. However, without proper protection, every Internet user has the potential to become a victim of a hacking attack.

In fact, most people believe that they’re safe online when they’re actually opening themselves up to fraud and potential data or money loss. It’s time to take a close look at your online behaviour so that you can see if you’re making some of the following Internet security mistakes.

Not Updating Regularly

A common threat to your computer system is outdated software. Most software manufacturers update their products every few months in an attempt to patch up any problems and to keep to virus database up-to-date.

By leaving your software “as is,” any security updates will be neglected. Without the latest updates and security patches, your system becomes more vulnerable to cyber-attacks

Check if your antivirus and anti-malware tools on your computer are up to date. Notifications from these programs often pop up to inform you of any updates. Pay attention to them, and update regularly so that your information is always protected.

Don’t forget to regularly update your operating system and all other software and apps on all your devices. Turning on automatic updates so you don’t have to worry about them is a smart solution.

Neglecting Passwords

The most common mistakes users make when it comes to passwords are: using weak passwords, using the same password for every account and not changing the passwords regularly.

Passwords that are less than 12 characters and include common phrases can easily be guessed. If you use that same password for your other accounts, you’re leaving yourself open to identity theft.

Hackers zone in on passwords that are not regularly updated. A password that stands for many months or years at a time can be eventually broken and hacked. Ideally, update your passwords every month so that they’re fresh and complicated for potential criminals.

Keeping track of multiple passwords can be tough but you can use a password manager to store them safely without needing to remember them. For an additional layer of security, you can use two-factor authentication which requires you to type in a code that is sent to you via text or app.

Misusing Wi-Fi

Many people believe that connecting to public Wi-Fi and logging into their accounts is completely safe. However, hackers can set up an open connection that looks like a legitimate hotspot. When you connect to these networks, the data you send and receive becomes automatically vulnerable.

However, there are ways to protect yourself. You should use a virtual private network (VPN) which encrypts your connection and prevents hackers from intercepting it.

Ideally, wait until you get home to access your sensitive information. It is best if bank accounts and other sensitive data are accessed only when you’re on a personal, Wi-Fi connection that you can manage and trust.

Clicking Links in Emails

Phishing email looks as if it is from a reputable website such as PayPal or Facebook. The email usually states that there is something wrong with your account and asks you to click on a link in order to log in to your account.

What many people don’t know is that these kinds of links lead to spoof websites that are made to look legitimate but are actually created just to get access to user names, passwords and other sensitive information.

If you’re concerned about an email that looks authentic, visit the company’s website by manually typing it into your browser. Never click on any links in emails asking you to log in to your accounts, or in emails from unknown senders. Also, sometimes an email can be made to look as if it is from a person on your contact list. It can also contain malicious links or attachments. Being vigilant with email in general is a good idea.

Over time, you’ll be able to spot phishing scams when they enter your inbox. Errant dashes, spaces and punctuation often dominate these emails. Trash them as quickly as you receive them.

Sharing Personal Information

A lot of social media users add too much personal information on their profile pages such as their phone number and address.  Posting too many details about yourself can open the doors to identity theft.

Similarly, posting status updates or photos with a location or “checking in” can result in burglary. When you “check in” at, for example, a vacation spot, you give thieves the information that you’re out of town so they can focus on stealing from your home.

Protect yourself by maintaining some anonymity. Don’t offer too much information over social media sites.

Final Thoughts

Internet security starts with regularly updated software and operating systems. Maintaining your passwords, using public Wi-Fi safely and keeping an eye on your email are your key to staying safe. Ideally, read about the latest security breaches as time goes on so that you can amend your practices as necessary. Be the one user who always thwarts those online criminals with a system that’s impenetrable to hacking and remember not to share too much personal information online.

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.