You have read and reread numerous lists with tips on how to browse online safely, make online purchases, avoid your most intimate photos ending up online, stopping cybercriminals from ruining your vacation, or how to enjoy your favorite games without risking your privacy…
You’ve heard the same basic precautions time and again, but you keep ignoring almost all of them. It could be down to laziness or recklessness, or simply just forgetting them. This, however, could have dire consequences for your online security.
This is why we wanted to bring together, in a single list, the most basic security measures you should remember and stick to!
1. Opening any attachment that you receive by email
If you receive an email from a suspicious source or you don’t have a good feeling about it, don’t open the attachment. As we’ve said on numerous occasions, documents that look inoffensive (such as a Word document, for example) could be hiding malware and even a simple photo could prove to be dangerous.
2. Clicking on shortened links without thinking
If you use Twitter then you’ll know what we’re talking about – these links, which are becoming increasingly more common, are spread using sites such as bit.ly, the famous ow.ly from Hootsuite or goo.gl by Google. Usually, they lead you to nothing dangerous such as a blog or an online diary, but some links aren’t as inoffensive as they seem. If you want to assure yourself that the links are safe, take a look at these tips.
3. Using public Wi-Fi without taking precautions
There have been many articles written that warn us about the dangers of using public connections such as the ones that we find in cafes, hotels, airports or libraries. Even a 7-year old girl, without any technological know-how, is capable of spying on your online communications. To keep safe, don’t share confidential information (passwords, bank details, etc) and, if you can, use a virtual private network (VPN) and only access pages that use safety protocol (you’ll know it by the http in the address bar).
4. Ignoring security updates
If your operating system tells you that you need to install or update something, you should pay attention and do it. A lot of times it consists of measures to cover up weaknesses that have been recently detected that cybercriminals could use to their advantage. The same goes for your cellphone; always use the latest version of Android or iOS available and keep aware of what apps you have installed.
5. Using the same passwords on different accounts
Even though it’s the easiest way to remember them all, it’s a really bad idea, because if someone gets hold of your password then they have free rein on all of your accounts. Also, any attack on a company’s database (which is also becoming more common) can wind up with your credentials being sold on the black market. When a cybercriminal gets his hands on them, he’ll be able to access every protected account. To avoid this, activate the two-step verification tool such as the ones for Gmail or Facebook.
6. Thinking that an antivirus isn’t important
A good antivirus software is the best barrier you can put between your computer and cybercriminals. New vulnerabilities, different ways of compromising your private information, and ways to raid your bank account are discovered every day. Only security experts at specialized firms are aware of antivirus updates necessary for when a threat emerges. By the way, if you have a Mac, it’s also necessary to have an antivirus. The idea that Apple products don’t have viruses is a myth.
7. Thinking that backing up files is a waste of time
Making a backup of your files is much easier than it sounds, but if you get lazy just thinking about it then remember that you have many tools at your disposal that handle everything. The Panda security solutions, without going any further, allow you to program backups to save your files in the cloud and retrieve them quickly and easily.
8. Not paying attention to your browser when it says the connection isn’t secure
When we surf the net, we tend to act on autopilot and ignore any warnings that we come across. If Chrome says that a web is not safe, we ignore the warning. If Firefox asks for confirmation before downloading a file, we give our approval without thinking. Science says that we have become accustomed to these messages so that we no longer notice them. For you sake, pay attention! Neither Mozilla nor Google show these messages to annoy you.
9. Giving out information on social media
This is especially true for when we go on vacation and share all the details on Facebook or Twitter, but also when we reveal our location without thinking about who could use it for malicious purposes. Sometimes we forget, but all the information we publish on social networks is capable of ending up in the wrong hands.
10. Downloading applications from anywhere
The malware designed for mobile devices is booming and one of its main pathways are the dangerous downloads outside of Google Play and the Apple Store. The official stores have certain security measures to prevent spread malware and you can read reviews from other users before deciding to install an app, in case there was something suspicious. Conversely, if you download from an unofficial page and install it on your own, the likelihood of it containing malware is higher.