Technology and the internet have, no doubt, become an integral part of your daily life, making it nearly impossible to function without them. However, this also means that you leave yourself significantly exposed and vulnerable to criminals and predators lurking in the cyberworld. And you can never predict when and how you could fall prey to their malicious attacks.
But did you know that things you do on a daily basis constantly create opportunities for these unscrupulous individuals to make you a target? In fact, daily habits that you often take for granted could easily expose you to a malicious attack in more ways than one. Therefore, understanding how you make yourself vulnerable is important to protect yourself with effective safety precautions.
So, here are 5 daily practices that you need to re-think today to guard against a potential cyberattack.
- Account sign-ups
According to a report by Dashlane, an average user has around 90 online accounts. Chances are you will not even remember all the accounts you have signed up for over the past few years. This is because of the countless websites that constantly request for sign-ups to receive their services. These can range from online shopping and dating sites to free newsletters and loyalty cards.
However, this simple habit could become a threat to your safety when these sites collect, store, sort and share all your personal information. Take, for example, the popular dating site Tinder. It has access to its users’ personal addresses, phone numbers, current locations, and even the Facebook profiles. And making a purchase on Amazon means providing it with your home address, contact number, email address, and even details about personal product preferences and buying habits.
Companies not only use these data for targeted advertising but also share them with third-parties. And if they get hacked due to a malicious attack, it could leave you exposed to various criminal activities.
So, what can you do? Identify and make a list of account sign-ups you have done so far. Determine the most essential profiles and delete the rest. You might want to delete Tinder account profiles and online shopping accounts that you hardly use, idle loyalty memberships and profiles created for newsletters. And going forward, practice caution before you provide personal data for account sign-ups.
- Social media activities
Social media users spend a staggering 135 minutes browsing, sharing, connecting, and engaging on social media every day. Today, it has become an addictive practice, with many people oversharing personal information on a daily basis.
The result of this is a large volume of personal data that is freely available on your social profiles. It could be in the form of comments, posts, photos, and even videos. This makes you an easy target for countless criminal activities, from identity and financial theft to stalking.
Therefore, carefully selecting information that doesn’t leave your personal life exposed is important when it comes to social sharing. Remember that once uploaded to cyberspace, it becomes very difficult to control who gains access and for what purpose. And as an added safety measure, only allow close friends and family into your personal network on social media. Also, adjust data settings so that viewing your activity is limited to your connections.
As the number of devices, files, and accounts that you need to protect keeps on increasing, the number of passwords used will also continue to grow. Then, it doesn’t come as a surprise that 2 in 3 people reuse passwords as keeping track of multiple passwords and pin codes becomes a tedious task. However, this places you at significant risk of a data breach, since hacking one of your accounts could easily provide cybercriminals with access to several others.
Using obvious passwords such as your birthday or your favorite holiday destination is another common mistake. Even an amateur hacker could easily access this type of information and launch an attack.
Therefore, setting up strong passwords that are unique to each purpose is essential to protect your data in the digital world. And if you are struggling to remember several passwords and pin codes, a reputed password manager app could help you to easily and safely store and retrieve them.
Emails are one of the most popular communication modes used for work and in personal life. And this is exactly why they have become a popular choice among cybercriminals for phishing and malware attacks.
Many people think hacking your mailbox is the most common way of compromising your data when it comes to emails. However, this is not always the case. Malware attacks could be launched using a malicious attachment sent via an email or even by prompting you to click on an email link. And email phishing attacks could impersonate your bank, the Internal Revenue Service or even a friend or family member. These fraudulent emails could often deceive you into revealing your personal data.
Therefore, the importance of guarding yourself against these scams cannot be stressed enough. Always verify the source of any suspicious-looking emails before taking action. And avoid clicking on links and downloading attachments from unknown sources.
- Online browsing
Your browser is another source of information about your online activities and could put you at risk in the event of a malicious attack on your devices. This is exactly why browser safety is important to protect your personal data.
Regularly deleting cookies together with the search history on your browser is an essential step to remove any data trail. You can also deactivate the auto-fill function to prevent storing your search phrases. Using a Virtual Protocol Network (VPN) is another proactive measure you can take to prevent hackers from tracking your activities.
Today, it has become impossible to isolate yourself from the constantly evolving technology. But you can certainly take steps to become more alert and cautious in how you go about your daily activities. Therefore, re-thinking these 5 daily practices could help you protect yourself and still continue to enjoy the many benefits that technology has to offer.