Guest Author Caroline About Interest Waypoint:
I would like to thank for publishing this guest post on their site. Their website is packed full of helpful technology tips, reviews, and news, making it a great resource for anyone looking to gain additional knowledge about Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, blogging or even cars. I personally recommend this article of theirs about a new feature available for Gmail users. As a Gmail user myself, I’ve found it to be particularly useful, and I’m glad I stumbled upon it.
Staying safe online is not always an intuitive skill. As the popularity of the internet has skyrocketed in the last decade, online security is now more important than ever. Today, it’s not uncommon for those young and old to enjoy the internet; seniors are taking advantage of social media, and young children are commonly using the net as well.
Although the children of today are typically much more tech savvy than the average adult or senior, they are still not always familiar with how they should be protecting themselves or their devices while connected to the internet. That being said, anyone can benefit from learning how to safeguard their information, no matter their age or level of technological expertise. Even if you are an experienced internet user, you can still end up making a mistake here or there that can land your device in a heap of trouble; even the most tech savvy aren’t immune to making a mistake!
7 Common Online Security Mistakes
To help you avoid these types of mishaps, here is a list of 7 common online security mistakes and how to avoid them.
The Nigerian 419 Scam
If you ever receive an email or letter stating something of the following, delete it and never look back:
On that note, if anyone unfamiliar ever sends you an email or letter requesting money, don’t send any. You should also avoid sharing your personal information with them.This includes your home address, bank account information, social security number, and anything along those lines.
Be aware that the Nigerian 419 Scam is not always going to present itself in a letter similar to the one above. Sometimes you will receive an email from someone who claims they desperately need your help, and sometimes the email will be addressed to you as if you are their friend, relative, or past schoolmate. This is meant to trick you into believing they may be someone you actually know, though they most definitely are not.
These types of emails typically contain poorly written English. Yet whether or not the English is proper, if you receive an email from someone you do not know or if you receive emails requesting money, do not give out your personal information. This is the only way to avoid this scam.
Nigerian scammers are also commonly seen on online dating sites or social media websites. Someone may befriend you and try to establish a romantic relationship with you, yet actually be using a fake profile photo and information. These people will mostly type with poor English, make up excuses as to why they cannot meet you. They may claim that their sibling is ill, that they are stuck in another country, that they got into a car accident, or that you need to send them money in order for them to visit you.Then they’ll type with better grammar and punctuation out of the blue when they ask you to send them money!
They may claim that they are having issues with their passport, are away on business in another country, can’t pay off their legal fees alone, and need your help monetarily (for whatever reason) until they can transfer you a large sum of money in return, or at the very least, pay you back. Overall, the avoidance of this scam is simple: never send money or personal information to someone who you have not met in person, and if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always watch for the red flags mentioned above.
Creating Weak Passwords
If your passwords are weak, it’s much easier for hackers to obtain them. A strong password should contain at least one uppercase letter, numbers, and a symbol or two if possible. You should also avoid creating passwords that include your personal information such as your name, birth-date, or the street you live on.
Here’s an example of what a strong password might look like: AntEaters!850
Another tip about passwords is to change your passwords every once in a while and never use the same password for more than one account.
Clicking Every Link
It’s not uncommon to receive an email that includes some sort of hyperlink. However, sometimes these hyperlinks can be traps, luring you into the wonderful world of malware. And by wonderful, I mean absolutely terrible; these things can literally destroy your PC.
Luckily, this is an easy mistake that is just as simple to avoid. If you receive an email with an unfamiliar link, don’t click on it. You can hover your cursor over the text to see where the link actually leads to; this should give you a good idea as to whether or not it’s a website you’ve visited before or have heard of.
If it’s an unfamiliar link, it’s best to avoid it just out of caution. Malicious links can even be tied into emails sent from people you know because their accounts may have been hacked.
Not Installing Safety Programs
Computers almost always come with some sort of anti-virus program, but you often have to pay for it after the free trial runs out. The good news is that you can actually obtain an anti-virus program for free that can protect your devices just as well. Anti-virus programs are not unheard of, but did you know there is another program available that can protect you while online?
One other program that is useful when it comes to online safety is a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN will hide your IP address and add security to your devices by encrypting your internet traffic. This makes it almost impossible for hackers to determine who or where you are; the same goes for websites trying to pick up your location.
Installing safety programs such as these are not always something that crosses one’s mind, but they can make a huge difference in the protection of your hardware.
Forgetting to Log Out
There are a handful of websites that don’t log you out automatically after you’re done using them. This can be an issue because anyone who gains access to your device can then make their way into your personal info. A simple solution for this is simply to remember to log out of your online accounts, whether you are on your PC or your smartphone.
Not Keeping Your Software Updated
Updating your software is an important security feature because updates often prevent hackers from using exploits in older versions to steal your information. Enabling automatic updates will usually solve this problem, but sometimes you’ll need to check for them manually.
Downloading Files From Unverified Sources
Always verify the integrity of files before downloading them. Is the website they’re on or the email they’ve been sent from legitimate? Even if it appears so, scan the file with an anti-virus program before opening it; sometimes malicious websites are cleverly disguised.
Everyone Makes Mistakes. Don’t worry too much about making a mistake; just be sure that your device is protected for those times when you do. Over time, you’ll become accustomed to how to easily notice and avoid these online security mistakes, making security a breeze and keeping your devices in tip-top shape.
About Author: Caroline Black is a writer and blogger whose main topic of internet is internet security. She has a passion for helping the average computer user protect themselves from the myriad of threats online.