According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2018, people lost up to $1.48 billion due to fraud, especially imposter scams.
We all live in a busy world, and it is understandable when most of us ignore the preventive measures for online activities. Although not having enough time for oneself is a genuine reason not to pay attention, putting your online privacy at risk can cost you a lot.
However, we know not to share our passwords and credit card pins with a stranger or a friendly colleague. We all have a general idea of what online security is and how to protect ourselves from scammers and frauds. But sometimes, we unintentionally end up doing stuff that makes us vulnerable online.
Here are the seven most common habits that put you at risk online:
1.Shopping from risky websites:
Shopping in person can be too much amid the pandemic and when you are fully packed in your professional life. It is difficult to take some time to buy stuff that you like and need. This leads you to shopping online, which saves time and physical labor.
But this practice can be risky if you are shopping from a sketchy website. Online frauds and scammers always keep an eye on the consumers who show even the slightest bit of digital vulnerability.
People often end up shopping from websites that are not secure and have fraudsters behind them. They take your valuable information such as your credit card number, your name, and so on. This can be a huge threat to you and even the people connected to you, as there will be a great chance of your privacy being breached and your identity being used for illegal purposes. Also, stealing your data means they will soon come for your finances too.
What you can do is surf and shop on the websites that are encrypted. This means you need to look for the URLs that have “HTTPS” in them. This is proof that the website has SSL certificates and is encrypted.
2.Trusting your online friends a bit too much:
The world has undoubtedly changed after the arrival of social media, which has brought people worldwide closer to each other than ever before. Social networking sites, even the professional ones like LinkedIn, gave us a chance to connect to people we would never know about if the internet didn’t exist.
However, the process of connecting with new people is not as exciting as it sounds. Contacting strangers online before you have a professional or personal affiliation with them is still really risky.
If you find a person online who is being even slightly suspicious, prioritize your online security. You can use Nuwber for the person you think might be a scammer. Put their name or phone number in the search bar, hit enter, and see what comes up. This way, you will always stay protected from any unprecedented online attack.
Remember not to disclose any personal information. Even the names of your family members may be used in fraudulent activities against you. Taking down your guard may feel great, but think twice before doing that.
3.Using public WiFi:
Using public WiFi is one of the most common harmful practices that we need to give up. Public WiFi is one of those mediums through which a hacker can access your device and take all the valuable information they need. The internet traffic can be intercepted by a ‘middle man’ or a hacker waiting for a vulnerable device to show up.
You can either stop using public WiFi altogether or, in urgency, use your VPN, which will keep all your activities encrypted.
4.Being emotionally vulnerable:
Sharing your hard times and being emotionally expressive is a part of human nature that should not be taken lightly. But being emotionally open on the internet in front of an online friend might be risky. The people you have never met can have control over your most private information in no time if you do not act carefully.
Emotional attachment with a person can sometimes lead to practices such as password sharing and sending pictures. These activities can be hazardous as your password can be compromised, and the pictures might have important information like where you live and what places you like to visit with your friends. This can give a stalker a chance to follow you.
Sharing is ok, but be wary of what exactly you share and who with.
5.Using the same password for multiple accounts:
It is not humanely possible to remember every unique password for your accounts, so you end up using the same one for most of the websites you visit. This can be extremely risky because if the hacker gets access to one account, they can access multiple accounts with the same password.
Create unique passcode for every site you visit. You can use a password manager like 1Password to help you manage the passwords for all the accounts and applications. That way, you’ll have to remember only one passcode – for your password manager.
6.Opening an unknown email:
In professional scenarios, the primary medium of connecting with colleagues and bosses is via email. Although there is no harm in making email communication your daily practice, sometimes people open email messages from unverified sources. You are curious that maybe this message is from a lead you always wanted, but it turns out to be another online scam. Additionally, links may install malware in your systems and damage your device. Not even to mention they may steal some crucial private data.
Avoid opening emails that are from unknown accounts. And even if you do, avoid opening the attachment file or clicking on links. Check the person and the company before using their files or replying.
7.Leaving the computer unattended:
This might sound strange, but leaving your system unattended can give hackers a chance to access your data. If you use your laptop in a public space such as a coffee shop, never leave the system turned on. To protect your PC from any harm or stealth, consider putting a system password. Encrypting hard drives will also protect the data in case the device is stolen.
Scammers and scam practices such as phishing have increased as technology has advanced and perpetuated in almost every part of the world. This article contains the seven most common practices that can put us in danger online and, eventually, offline.