Cases of identity theft and cyber-crime are becoming more common and destructive. It is therefore very important that people take measures to ensure their Internet security. Unfortunately, many people are making mistakes that may seem harmless but that are putting them at risk. Below are five of the most common Internet security mistakes that people commonly make.
Not keeping things up to date
Most people are aware of the importance of keeping their antivirus software up-to-date. However, far fewer people worry about installing updates to their operating systems or using antiquated software. Hackers are continuously finding operating system vulnerabilities and exploiting them.
Microsoft is continuously rolling out updates and patches to fix these security holes. If users ignore the messages that updates are available and fail to download the patches, they are at risk for security breaches. Antivirus software will not be able to protect them from these sorts of attacks. Additionally, outdated software may contain security holes that are no longer being patched.
Falling for email scams
People should avoid opening emails from unknown or unsolicited sources whenever possible. To stay safe, users are advised to:
- Never click on links within emails. These may be phishing schemes that lure the user to a spoofed website. People should instead type the URL directly into their browser.
- Never download attachments on emails unless they are expected and are from a known and reliable source. Absolutely never download a file with an .exe extension unless absolutely and completely sure of its origin and purpose.
- Ignore emails that ask for personal or financial information such as passwords, account numbers or ID numbers – even if they appear to be from a known source. Email addresses can be spoofed and designed to steal personal data.
- Be skeptical of things that appear unusual. If someone sends an email suggesting that the recipient has won a large sum of money or is the heir to a fortune, ignore it. These are almost always scams to lure money from people.
Using the same password for all accounts
A surprisingly large number of people use the same user name and password for every online account they have. Usually this is because they are afraid of forgetting their password. Unfortunately, hackers are well aware of this.
Users may be easily tricked into revealing their master password through a phishing scheme. Additionally, if one site where they have an account becomes compromised, their account credentials may fall into the wrong hands, along with their master password. This will make it very easy for hackers to access all their accounts, including their personal email.
People are strongly advised to use strong and unique passwords. It is also a good idea for users to change their passwords at least once every 6 months.
Not using a firewall
Some people believe that because they have antivirus and antimalware software running on their computer, a firewall is unnecessary. This is not true. A firewall is one of the best ways users can protect their systems from infection by malware and worms. A firewall will work to keep this malicious code from ever getting to a user’s computer in the first place.
Downloading free software or games
People can often be tempted to download files that seem interesting. These can include screensavers, fonts, games and fortune telling programs.. Unfortunately, these can often include Trojan horse viruses that avoid detection. If the user then fails to perform periodic scans with updated antivirus software, it can become a big problem. Users are strongly advised against downloading anything that is not needed or from a reliable and trusted source.
By abiding by these simple steps everyone can increase their security online and offline. Avoid identity theft, stop cybercrime and regain online freedom.
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