Personal Online Security 101

It is estimated that around 30,000 websites are hacked per day. 1.5 million cyber attacks happen annually. And, if that’s not surprising enough, nearly two thirds of U.S. adults with social media accounts say that their accounts have been hacked.

We all think, “I’m safe online. It won’t happen to me.” However, the truth is that anyone and everyone who uses the Internet is vulnerable to being hacked, and no one’ data is 100% safe on the Internet. If you have a social media account, odds are you have been sent a malicious link from one of your Facebook friends who has been hacked, or maybe you have been a victim of such hacking. Maybe your email has been hacked at some point, or you have unknowingly been a part of a phishing scam. Either way, cyber threats are all over the place, and although you can’t completely prevent them from happening to you, adopting these online protection habits can help you protect yourself online:

  1. Create strong passwords. Many people use the same passwords for everything, or some variation of the same password to help them keep track of all their login information. In the event of a large password breach, like the LinkedIn and Twitter hacks, having just one password for everything is detrimental. If a hacker gets access to the email and password you use for Facebook, for example, they can access all of your other accounts as well. You’ll want to create strong passwords incorporating numbers, both capital and lowercase letters, and special characters, and make a different one for each website you log into. If you’re worried about keeping track of them, create an Excel spreadsheet on your computer or on a note in your phone. That way, you are not using the Internet, and if your computer and phone are password protected, your passwords will be kept secure.
  2. Be picky with what you choose to download. This one is fairly self-explanatory, but be extremely careful with what you download from websites. For example, Adobe Flash Player is one of the most commonly downloaded applications from the web, but there are multiple scams online that prompt you to download a fake and malicious version of the application. Always double check that you are on the correct website. Also, be selective with installing anti-virus software online. Beware of applications like MacKeeper that pop up on your computer. You’ll want to always ensure that what you are downloading is reputable and safe.
  3. Shop safely. This one is extremely important, as it involves your card information. If you are ordering from an online retailer, you need to verify that the website is using secure technology. During the checkout process, make sure that the URL begins with “https” and check to see if there is a small locked padlock symbol at the bottom right of the checkout screen. If ever in doubt, PayPal is a great method to keep your private banking information secure when shopping online.
  4. Don’t click on unfamiliar links. As mentioned earlier, one very common online scam is through links sent over from friends on social media messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger or Twitter direct messages, or even email platforms. If a friend sends you a link, your first instinct is to click on it because you trust them — but their account could be hacked, and clicking on the link will give the spammer access to your account. If you ever receive an email or online message that looks suspicious, delete it and alert your friend that his or her account has been compromised.

Protecting Your Privacy and Information

Although these are only a few tips of many regarding online security, these are some of the most common security mistakes people make online. As always, be vigilant about what you click on, which websites you give your personal information to, and which web applications you choose to download.

Now that we’ve gone over personal security tips, check out our tips for businesses to improve network security. Integracon experts monitor security threats and help our clients develop strategic security initiatives. Contact us to learn how we might support your company.