Is your activity online or on your smartphone leaving you vulnerable? If you aren’t using the Internet wisely on your devices, you could be making errors that may open you up for identity theft or cyber crime. Read on to learn the five common mistakes people make trying to keep their digital information safe.
A whopping 73 percent of Americans have been victim to some sort of cyber crime. Whether it’s an online scan or fraud, email phishing, or a password that’s been stolen, it’s more common to be a victim than not to be.
There are ways, however, to protect yourself from some of the most common mistakes people make online. Find out how to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of cyber crime by avoiding these common mistakes:
1. Using too basic of a password
One of the biggest mistakes people make on websites and online accounts is using too basic of a password. Don’t use your spouse or child’s name, your name, your street name, or your pet’s name. Also don’t use consecutive numbers, like 1-4 or 1-8.
Microsoft also advises creating a password that doesn’t include parts of your real name, business name, nickname, or username. Also, don’t just change one letter or number in a previously used password; make up an entirely new password. It’s also a good idea for your password not to contain a complete word.
Choose a password that contains all of the following:
- Lowercase letters
- Uppercase letters
Another big no-no is using the same password for everything. Having the same password means that if someone gets ahold of your password for one site, they’ll have your password for every site.
For example, if your email password is discovered, the hacker would then be able to access your bank account, social media accounts, or whatever else you use the same password for. Don’t open the door for a cyber criminal to access so many parts of your online life.
2. Not having a passcode on your cell phone
We get it. It’s way easier not to have to type in a passcode every time you pick up your smartphone to use it. But without a passcode, the personal information on your phone can be accessed by anyone.
Leave your phone at a restaurant, the playground, or even unattended on your desk at work, and anyone could not only steal your phone, but steal info on your phone in seconds. If someone clicks on your phone and is asked for a passcode, they are much more likely to leave your phone where it is rather than steal it.
It is also a good idea to enable the auto-lock feature on your phone. This means that your phone will automatically lock, and require your passcode for entry (if set up), after a certain number of seconds that your phone isn’t in use. This is a handy feature to have. Use it!
3. Sharing your passwords with others
Sharing passwords to email, social media, and any other account you have online is a bad idea. You could share a password with a friend one day, only to have that person turn out not to be such a good friend and use your password against you, or share it with someone else who doesn’t have good intentions.
If you do have to share a password for some reason, make sure it’s not a password you use for other accounts. If it’s not, then change your password to something unique before sharing it.
Got children? Read more about online safety, including expert tips for keeping your kids safe on social media.
4. Not backing up personal data
Technology is a great asset, however it is not an infallible one. Computer hardware, smartphones, and other devices can fail or become damaged. It’s a good idea to back up your data and any family photos or documents.
You don’t want to have just one copy of documents or photos stored on your computer or phone. Use an external hard drive, cloud storage, or other means to make sure your data won’t get lost due to a technology mishap or malfunction.
5. Announce when you’re on vacation
If you enjoy sharing your life with friends and family on social media, letting them know about an upcoming beach vacation or trip to Europe is enticing. But don’t talk about a vacation, or post updates that you’re at the airport, or out of town, on social media sites. The info could fall into the wrong hands, and you could become a victim of a burglar who knows you won’t be home to interrupt a break-in.
Of course, you can share info on your vacation with trusted friends or family members, just don’t do it social media. And, wait until you get home to post your vacation pictures and brag about your trip.
Want to know more about keeping your home safe while on vacation? Check out our checklist for just that.