7 Things You Probably Do Online That Can Leave You Unprotected

Cybersecurity is all about keeping yourself safe online. But unfortunately, many of us are complacent and only take action after an attack has happened.

But did you know it’s easy to become proactive with your online security? All you need to do is address your bad habits and make simple changes that have a big, lasting effect.

In this article, we will share the most common things we’re all guilty of doing online – and how to correct them.

The Surge in Cyberattacks and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Cyber attacks are becoming more common with each passing year. According to research from Check Point, cyberattacks have risen by up to 38% since last year, with an average of 1,168 attacks hitting businesses weekly.

Below are some of the most common mistakes you might be guilty of. By changing your behavior, you could well be saving yourself from a costly cyberattack.

Setting Poor Passwords

Weak passwords are a common thing that hackers love to exploit. These include short passwords that use common words or phrases or use personal information like a nickname, pet, or date of birth.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are scraping huge amounts of data about our lives and using automated programs to crack these simple passwords.

Don’t worry – improving the strength of your passwords is relatively easy. Consider the following:

  • Create a password that’s at least 12 characters long.
  • Use a variety of upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.
  • Avoid using the same password for more than one service.
  • Consider a password manager to store and manage your passwords.

No Antivirus – Or Not Using It Properly

Antivirus is one of the most important software, capable of detecting, quarantining, and removing various viruses. But you need to learn how to use your antivirus effectively.

That means regularly updating the program with the latest protections and learning to scan a file for viruses. You can scan specific folders (like downloads or external hard drives) to ensure any new files on your computer are safe. You should also learn how to schedule antivirus scans and enable them to run once a week.

Not Using a VPN for Secure Browsing

A VPN is one of the best ways of protecting yourself online. It works by disguising your IP address and encrypting your data, stopping any prying eyes from spying on the contents of your screen, even when on a public Wi-Fi network.

If you’re browsing the internet without a VPN, cybercriminals could intercept your online activity. This can include everything from your location and the websites you’re visiting to personal details and personal login information. By using a VPN, you’re effectively adding another layer of protection to your online activity.

Buying From Unverified Websites

Online shopping has taken the world by storm. But as tempting as buying something from a new site might be, you should be cautious. Their low prices or generous promotions might be a disguise to get your personal and banking information.

Investigate the website before purchasing, examining customer reviews and seeing how long the site has been operating. Additionally, check the site’s security and encryption, including if the URL starts with a ‘HTTPS’ (SSL Certificate) and if there’s a padlock icon before the address.

Accepting All Terms and Conditions Without Investigation

We’ve all been guilty of clicking ‘Yes’ on pop-up boxes to make them disappear. But what exactly are we agreeing to? And are we leaving ourselves exposed?

More often than not, the website is asking for consent to use cookies, which are small text files that contain a variety of information like your browsing history, location, and potentially information about you as a person, such as hobbies, interests, and more.

While accepting cookies can help enhance your experience on certain websites, you should be cautious about accepting them all the time. Be careful of cookies from unverified websites and third-party cookies that can track your online activity to serve personalized adverts.

Forgetting to Download and Install Updates

Each day, new cybersecurity threats emerge that aim to exploit old software. Developers regularly release security patches and updates to keep users safe.

You must download the latest security patches to avail yourself of the latest protections to keep safe online. Essential software to update includes your operating system, browser, antivirus, and third-party apps you’ve installed yourself.

Remember that it’s not enough to download them; you must also install them. Sometimes, you might need to restart your PC for the security patch to take effect.

Oversharing on Social Media

One of the most common cyberattacks nowadays is phishing. This is when a hacker impersonates a legitimate business or entity and sends you fraudulent messages, emails, links, or downloads to infect your computer.

Hackers will often scrape personal information from your social media accounts to tailor convincing messages to you. To limit their threat, review all of the privacy settings of your social media accounts. Ensure you’re not divulging too much to the world, and where possible, remove unnecessary information from your accounts.

7 Things You Probably Do Online That Can Leave You Unprotected was last updated September 11th, 2023 by Jolene Chambers