by Dave Fuller
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
1. Using the same password for everything
Never do that. If a hacker somehow manages to get that single password you use for every login, they will have no trouble accessing all of your online accounts. So don’t be lazy and think of a strong, unique password each time you create a new account, especially for banking or shopping sites. You can also get a reliable password manager to help you remember all your unique passwords.
2. Ignoring antivirus updates
You, me, and the majority of users find software updates annoying as they tend to pop up exactly when you don’t have time to deal with them. So what you normally do is hit the “Postpone” button thinking you will get back to it later. But you never do.
Keeping antivirus/antimalware programs up-to-date is crucial (not to mention a requirement of GDPR) and will make sure your device stays protected from malicious threats. If you don’t feel like checking for updates regularly, just enable your applications to do it automatically.
3. No lock screen protection
Unless you take your phone everywhere you go, without leaving it unattended even for a tiny second, you simply must use some sort of lock screen protection: pattern, PIN code, password, face or fingerprint.
If you don’t lock your screen, anyone can install malware or spyware on your phone without you noticing. Also, enable remote location and wiping if possible, so that if someone nabs your phone, you can erase all your private information remotely.
4. No computer password
People store much more private and sensitive information on their computers than anywhere else but often do nothing to protect it. Don’t make it easy for someone to install spyware or steal your private information. Put a password on your computer and lock it when you leave—even for a few minutes.
5. No antivirus and anti-malware
While ignoring antivirus updates is a bad idea, not having any software that protects you from malicious threats is even worse. Therefore, it would be a perfect time to do some research and get yourself reliable antivirus and antimalware programs.
Having an Apple Mac is no excuse for not using Antivirus software, there are many active viruses for the Mac and you could end up passing the infection onto others.
6. Clicking on the links in strange emails
A lot of hacking and malware is successful because people open emails they receive from random strangers. This is known as phishing, and it happens to more people than one could expect. The purpose of phishing emails is to lure users into visiting fake websites. From there, hackers can easily install malware on their victim’s device or steal their passwords, credit card details, and other private information.
So the lesson here is simple – if you don’t know or trust the source, don’t click the link.
7. Using HTTP sites
If you haven’t paid attention to the website URL when browsing the Internet, you should start doing so. HTTP in the prefix of the address indicates that your connection is not secure, meaning that snoopers can see the data you share with that website. That is especially dangerous for online payments and cases when you need to provide personal information. To stay on the safe side, only browse sites that use an SSL-encrypted connection, indicated by HTTPS.
8. Checking your bank account on public WiFi
This one is especially painful since we all love free WiFi. However, public wireless networks usually lack proper protection, leaving their users open to man-in-the-middle attacks and other nefarious ways for hackers and snoopers to get your information.
When on public WiFi, don’t check any sensitive information, especially if it’s work- or money-related. Or better still – get yourself a VPN and keep your communications safe even on public WiFi.
9. Clicking on virus warning pop-ups
When visiting certain websites, you may face threatening pop-ups claiming to have found malware or viruses on your computer. Don’t click on them as they will more often than not try installing malware or adware on your device.
10. Weak WiFi password
If you don’t have a strong password on your home WiFi, you may be susceptible to easy hacking. If cybercriminals hack your network, they can snoop on you and collect your private information.
One of the best ways to create (and more importantly – remember) your passwords is to use passphrases. You can use the words of that song that you like, or come up with an original phrase and then shorten it, using special symbols and numbers. For instance: “I care about my privacy. My service provider is BT” phrase could be converted to a very strong password “1camp.MspiBT”.
11. Agreeing to all terms on software install
Reading terms and conditions every time you want to install a new app is a real pain, and I’m not surprised that you hit “Agree” without bothering to look at what’s written there. However, you should try to make reading those terms a new habit.
By agreeing to the terms without reading them, you may be allowing the software to do pretty nasty things: collect information about you, listen to your conversations, installing Trojans, viruses, malicious adware, and much much more.
12. Not using a VPN when using public WiFi
We have already talked about the dangers of open WiFi networks, so why are you still on that free hotspot with no VPN protection?
As such hotspots can be easily hacked or spoofed by a cybercriminal, securing your connection with a VPN is simply a must. ExpressVPN is a good option as it protects your data with strong encryption and has a bunch of extra security features to keep you safe from hackers, annoying ads, malware and other security threats.
While there are countless ways you can put yourself in trouble online, these 12 dangerous Internet habits are too common to be ignored. So let’s roll up our sleeves and fix them. Password manager anyone? …
Armed with a BA Hons Arts Degrees and decades of experience as a Web Developer, Dave manages all aspects of Web Design and Software Development at Accent and is also our technical guru.