It doesn’t evoke any argument to say that most people are not cautious with how they share sensitive or personal information online, and worse still, they are not even aware of the various ways they are opening themselves up to cyber-attacks. So, below are a few activities you should be more cautious about when next you go online.
1. Using the same password for different online accounts. Although complicated passwords are hard to remember, they are your best bet when it comes to staying safe online. Using your name or date of birth as passwords, or using the same password over and over on different accounts leaves you at great risk of losing your personal information to malicious programs and hackers.
To stay safe, always ensure all your passwords are strong, with a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Use different passwords for different accounts, and remember to change them after a while.
2. Transferring sensitive information via insecure email servers or messengers. Email and messenger apps have over the years, become a convenient way of sharing information but if there is no form of protection, your data can be stolen by cyber criminals. Assuming you are completely certain your connection is safe, you don’t know if your recipient’s end is, and that means your passwords and personal information can be compromised.
So before sharing personal info on online messengers, make sure conversations on the platform are end-to-end encrypted or are somehow protected. Also, alert the other party to be security conscious.
If you find reading privacy policies laborious, you can at least skim through the main points of the text before you accept it.
4. Publishing vital information on social media “What’s on your mind?” The magic question that makes you spill your life activities per second and open yourself up to different forms of attack. Such recklessness can inadvertently expose your private or sensitive information to criminals which can lead to a physical break-in at your home or an attack on your digital identity.
So it’s best if you do not post your day to day living on social media, and as an added safety measure, double check all your privacy settings to make sure they are set to keep you safe.
5. Filling out online forms There seems to be an online form for everything nowadays, or an option of signing up with either your Google or Facebook account. Most sites now require your personal information before they grant you full access to the content they offer. These are not entirely dangerous procedures, but if you aren’t careful, your personal information could be used for questionable purposes or be sold to advertisers.
The way out is to be careful of the sites you visit. Most legitimate sites have disclaimers and privacy policies that explain how your personal information can and will be used. Do not connect your Google or Facebook account to third party sites you do not trust. And before entering payment details into any website, check that the web address has an ‘s’ – which stands for secure – after the http. If it doesn’t, don’t use it.
6. Making use of public Wi-Fi or other insecure networks Public Wi-Fi networks are not very popular in this part of the world, but the ones we use at libraries or malls or over a friend’s hotspot service are inherently insecure. Anybody can access the same public hotspot with you and as such, any information you transfer over a public Wi-Fi connection could be vulnerable to snoopy eyes. This means that personal information like emails, passwords, credit card info and so on can be intercepted by malicious third parties using the same network.
To secure yourself, limit your public Wi-Fi usage or make sure to use only networks you trust. Avoid using sites that provide access to sensitive financial information or using your personal email when surfing the web on public Wi-Fi.
7. Not having a security program installed on your computer or device. Basic security programs can go a long way toward protecting your computer from viruses, malware and spyware. Computer security programs can also warn you when you visit a website that is malicious or one that has poor security. Some of them also provide email security, alerting you of possible phishing attacks and waving off spam emails.
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