Take a few seconds and think back to yesterday. How many times did you check your email? Check Facebook? Read an article? Watch a video?
The list of things you can do online could go on and on. And although it's nice to have a wealth of information at your fingertips and services at your beckon call, the internet just isn't as secure as we think.
During its early days, using the internet required some tech skills. It was slower and required a dial-up connection. Compared to today, there were very few people using the World Wide Web, and those who were using it were primarily developers.
Once the concept of the internet caught on, things changed. The web is now bigger than its creators could have ever imagined, and it's also a breeding ground for new types of dangers.
Phishing, identity theft, data breaches, Like farming, etc., are all ways that cybercrooks use the web to their advantage. And the worst part is, it's often easy. We make it easy for them by repeating these mistakes.
1. Trusting public Wi-fi
Using public Wi-Fi networks at airports, coffee shops, hotels and other venues is tempting. But you probably shouldn't. Public Wi-Fi is open to everyone, which makes it a prime target for hackers. And every device is susceptible, no matter if it's your laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Before connecting to any public network, ask someone who works there for the network name. This will help you avoid fake networks called "honeypots" that crooks label as "coffee shop," "airport," or "hotel guest," hoping you won't notice and connect to them.
If you must use a public network to browse the web, it's also a good idea to avoid any sites that require logins. Just remember, anyone could be snooping as you enter your username, password and even your bank account number. Click here for additional tips on browsing safely on public Wi-Fi.
2. Using simple passwords
With the right software, weak passwords can be cracked in a matter of seconds. Especially, if your information has been compromised by a previous data breach. Hackers can use the information they gather to make guesses about what your password may be.
Keeping track of your passwords used to be simple because there were so few of them to remember. Originally, you had your email account and a few logins here and there for other services - but now, a username and password is required for almost everything.
What's the solution? For many, the answer is to use passwords that are easy. But oversimplified passwords offer little protection for the information stored in your online accounts.
To keep crooks out, the first thing to do is update your passwords and make sure they're a complex series of letters and characters. If you're not sure where to start, this tip will help you create a password that's hack-proof.
3. Using the same password on multiple sites
Similarly, because it's so difficult to remember each password for each site, web users will often make another critical mistake. That is, to use the same password for each login they need.
The reason that's bad is pretty straight forward. It goes along with the advice your parents gave you to never put all of your eggs in one basket. We saw a prime example of that not long ago when we learned that billions of Yahoo accounts were exposed by a massive data breach. In one sweep, data for 3 billion people was compromised.
We've just shown you how to create tougher passwords, but there's another step you need to take. Closing down old, unused accounts is just as important. Finding those accounts is half of the battle. Click here for a quick trick to find all of your online accounts at once and get instructions to shut them down.
4. Clicking strange links
Clicking on a link in an email, text or just on a website is always a bit of a gamble. On the other end of that link could be the information you want to see, or it could be a malicious website.
Before you click anything, use this little secret: Hover your mouse over the link and look down in the bottom left-hand corner of your computer. The URL will appear, so you'll know where the link goes before you ever click it.
Another key thing is to just slow down. Stop. Don't be so hasty. Before you click on anything, you should ask yourself these five questions.
5. Sharing login credentials
Although it's tempting to share your Netflix login credentials with close friends and family, this isn't a good idea in any situation. The truth is, you just never know.
If someone learns your private login information, you should immediately change it.
6. Sharing too much on social media
It's fun to share photos of your exotic adventures or blog about what you're up to, but the information you share online could easily tell others a bit more than you intended.
For example, a simple photo of you at Disneyland accompanied by the caption, "Having a blast," tells anyone who follows you that your house is currently left unattended.
7. Never adjusting default settings
When you open up a new smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer, it comes with a number of default settings. But assuming those settings are designed to give you maximum protection is a big mistake. In most cases, default settings will only cover the basics. Here are some security settings your IT guy wants you to update.
It's not just your gadgets, either. Software programs and online accounts also need your attention. Here's how you can lock down your Facebook account for maximum privacy and security.
Your financial information seems to always be under attack, that's why you need to know where it's safe to swipe your debit card
With the recent outbreak of data breaches at retail locations and restaurants, it doesn't feel safe to swipe your credit/debit card anywhere. This raises the question, is it time to stop using cards altogether and go back to cash? While we don't think you should abandon plastic entirely, there are some places where using cash is better for security.