When you are choosing your passwords, what do you normally do? Do you optimize your passwords to the best security you can manage, or do you just type in “password” all of the time and let it be?
You should never pick a simple password, anyone wanting to get at your data will probably try out this list of commonly used passwords before resorting to anything more time-consuming. Even if you use the same password everywhere (which you shouldn’t), you need a strong password to protect your data. Change it now if you need to.
2) Using Public Networks without Protection.
While public networks such as those found in cafés, libraries, and airports might be incredibly convenient for you and help you stay in contact with people better while saving you money on your data plan, they can be incredibly dangerous to your online security and anyone with the right equipment (which isn’t expensive or hard to use) can take a look at what you are uploading or downloading (this includes financial data) if you are not prepared.
To be prepared, you will likely want to use a VPN, which will create a barrier of sorts around your connection and safely connect you to an outside server which will do your browsing for you and send you the data you need over that secure connection. This way no one will able to steal your data or know what you are doing.
3) Using Questionable Websites
This one doesn’t need much explanation. If a website is offering something that looks too good to be true, it is likely too good to be true. Also, make sure the website is as secure as possible, and don’t give your information to anything you aren’t 100% comfortable with.
4) Downloading Unknown Files
Whenever you download any file whatsoever, you should make sure exactly what you are getting. If you allow a file to be downloaded and activate on your computer then you are giving permission for that program to wreak havoc inside of your computer before you can possibly fix it. If you aren’t sure what it is, I can promise you that you don’t need it (or at least from that website).
5) Not Using an Internet Security Suite
This should go without saying, but you need internet security programs on your computer for it to function as a machine that connects to the internet for more than two months. A lot of people still don’t use them, and it usually leads to their ruin.
6) Not Checking and Clearing Cookies
Cookies and small programs or bits of information that are usually saved in your browser when you check a website or do something on it you want saved. Most of the time cookies are a good and useful thing that will save you time re-navigating pages you use often.
That all being said, sometimes cookies can be malicious and they might track your computer or take in data that you don’t want going anywhere. Every once in a while you should go into your browser’s options or settings (depends on the browser) and delete any cookies you don’t feel comfortable having on your computer.
7) Giving Out Too Much Personal Information
Maybe you need a strong public internet presence for one reason or another, but a lot of people don’t need to have everything out there for people to find when they are just using the internet for E-mail and Facebook. Try to figure out your own footprint on the internet and what people can find out about you if they look. Try to get rid of whatever you don’t want.
8) Neglecting to Update Your Computer
As incredibly annoying as those Windows security updates can be, forcing your computer to restart, they are usually there for a reason. If you are not updating often enough, you are vulnerable to whatever breach or loophole in the security that was patched up in the update (and that everyone knows about now that there was an update about it). Try to update any security related programs you have on your computer as soon as an update is available.
9) Failing to Keep Up to Date on Current Events
While this doesn’t mean that you need to have your head in the virtual tech newspapers every morning, you should try to stay abreast about whether any major websites are currently under attack or if there are any reports about a security leak which you might need to respond to. A quick glance over the major news sites and checking your email frequently should be enough to keep you informed.
10) Not Having a Backup Plan
Despite most people’s best efforts, sometimes there will be nothing you can do to prevent a security problem that will require your active attention. For this you should have a plan of what you are going to do and how you are going to quarantine the problem and keep your important information safe.
This means that you should try to have some backup drives in use and perhaps use a safe cloud storage program so you can restore everything you need to. Time will be of the essence, and you will not want to waste your time backing up your possible compromised files.