You might not realize it, but some of the simple things you do on the web every day could be making you an easy target for both online and real-life crooks.
Here’s how to keep yourself safe:
1. DON’T TAKE PERSONALITY QUIZZES FROM UNKNOWN SOURCES ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
We’ve seen it happen before: A data mining company creates a fun personality quiz on social media for the sole purpose of tricking people into handing over their personal information—even their private messages, in some cases. Hackers also create deceptively innocent surveys to goad people into posting the answers to their password security questions, such as “What was your first pet’s name?” or “What was your first car?” Unless a quiz or survey is posted by a reliable source, resist the urge to find out what age you look or what your spirit animal is..
It may not always be the course you imagined, but your big vision becomes your north star, which in turn helps you navigate and orient yourself through the darkness.
2. DON’T USE PUBLIC WI-FI WITHOUT VERIFYING THAT IT’S A LEGITIMATE NETWORK.
Let’s imagine you’re on vacation and you’re lounging by the hotel pool when you decide to log onto a Wi-Fi network called “Pool Wi-Fi.” You’ve been spending more money than you bargained for on this trip, so you decide to check your bank account balance—and while you’re at it, you log into your work email to check up on things. The problem is that “Pool Wi-Fi” is a fraudulent network designed to track your activity and steal your personal information. Whenever possible, check with a staff member to figure out which Wi-Fi network is genuine, and never check your bank account or log onto website containing sensitive data if you’re not using a secure, password protected network.
3. DON’T FOLLOW UP A GAMING SESSION WITH SOME ONLINE BANKING.
If you or your kids visit gaming or movie streaming websites that have lots of pop-ups, you could be putting malicious malware on your computer or electronic device. When you use that same device to check your bank account or pay your credit card bill, you face an increased risk of hacking and potentially even identity theft. Experts recommend using different devices for online banking and recreational uses, if possible.
6. DON’T USE THE SAME PASSWORD FOR MULTIPLE ACCOUNTS.
A lot of people are guilty of recycling passwords. It may seem like a convenient way to keep track of dozens or even hundreds of accounts, but it also makes it easier for hackers to break into multiple accounts. If you’re having trouble remembering the log-in details of 50 different accounts, try using a password manager app (just check the reviews first). These services could technically be compromised, but it’s a lot safer than keeping your passwords somewhere in your cloud storage.
5. DON’T LEAVE OLD, INACTIVE ACCOUNTS OPEN.
If you’ve ever abandoned an email or social network but never got around to deleting your account, you could be leaving yourself vulnerable to hackers. These so-called zombie accounts are easy targets because they aren’t closely monitored. If hackers manage to break into your account, they could gain access to a slew of sensitive information. Plus, if you’ve used the same password on other sites, those accounts are now also at risk. It may take some effort, but try to shut down any accounts you aren’t using.
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