Most of us are probably spending more time than we should online. I know I am. Between work, personal research, and “surfing the net” just for fun, I’m connected for many hours every day.
Can you say the same?
There may not be much we can or want to do to change that, but there is something we can do. We can make sure we’re as safe and secure as possible while online. Yes, I’m talking about online security.
In order to protect yourself from danger, you need to know where the danger lies, right? So let’s take a few moments and talk about five areas of danger. Five bad habits some people may have since they’re unaware of the potential risks. Or, in some cases, they are aware, but they aren’t motivated to change.
Hopefully, this info will change that.
Bad Habit #1: Thinking you are Anonymous
Unless you’re alone in a dark room and looking at something questionable or downright illegal, you don’t need to worry about being anonymous or hiding your tracks, right?
Whatever you’re doing, someone has the ability to watch or report on you. And they are. Your ISP is tracking everything you do and can sell it to advertisers or anyone else they like. So what can you do to secure your browsing and keep if for your eyes only?
Invest in a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This is a controlled network that allows you to connect to the internet privately. Your connection is encrypted, meaning no one is looking over your shoulder, watching your every move. There’s a far more technical explanation, but for the purposes of this article, it’s not necessary. What is necessary is choosing a VPN, and there are several. Here’s one of my favorites. Check out this IPVanish VPN review, and decide for yourself if it fits your needs.
Bad Habit #2: Registering for Sites using Social Media Accounts
We’ve all been presented with this, right? You’re signing up for something, and you’re greeted with the option of either going through the tedious sign-up process or just signing up in one click with Facebook or Google+.
Do you read the news? There seems to be an article about some issue with Facebook every month. Do you want whoever hacks your Facebook account to have access to whatever you’re signing up for? Because they will have it. And while we don’t hear about it as much, Google+ is going away, and part of that is due to a security breach a few years back.
Take the tedious route and register your accounts that way. Don’t use your social media accounts.
Bad Habit #3: Use of the Same Weak Password in Multiple Places
This is actually two bad habits, but we’re lumping them together.
First, using weak passwords. Passwords should be a long alphanumeric string — and throw some characters in there as well — that will be nearly impossible to crack. How long? Here’s a true story to give you a clue. Just yesterday I had to connect with the company that hosts my business website. When I checked my email I saw I had more than 5K delivery failed messages. Except I hadn’t sent any email. My host got back to me and told me my email had been hacked. Actually, two of my addresses had been hacked. More than 8K emails between them had been sent. Someone cracked my 12 digit passwords. And yes, they are alphanumeric and contain special characters.
My point? You need to ditch those “1234” “ABCD” passwords you’re using.
The second part of the issue is using that same weak password for multiple sites. You are in for a world of hurt if you use the same password for your bank as you use for some possibly insecure site. Even a site that should be secure.
Bad Habit #4: You Don’t use Public WiFi Wisely
So you’re in McDonald’s or Starbucks and you want to do some banking, check your stock portfolio, whatever. And since they have free WiFi, you figure you’ll use that instead of your data.
Bad idea! The guy at the next table could be monitoring everything you do while you’re on the same network. And if you’re one of those people above that uses 1234 as a password, don’t be too shocked when you see the zero balance on your bank statement. Because you’re pretty much asking for it to happen.
Bad Habit #5: You Don’t Update Your Software
I know I’m guilty of this one, but only because I’ve downloaded a bad update a time or two. I update hoping for a fix to a long-standing problem, and while it does fix that, it breaks something else. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen too often.
Hackers are looking for any way in they can find. As soon as a security weakness is publicized, they’ll be looking for anyone who hasn’t made the update. Don’t leave the door open and unlocked. Seal it up as soon as you can.
Are you guilty of any of these bad habits? Now is the time to correct that!