The internet is one of the most powerful tools that we have had in recent decades. It facilitates the connection of billions of people worldwide through social media, websites, chat rooms, and other platforms. For many children and adolescents, being connected via smartphones and social media is now just a part of growing up.
Despite the internet almost becoming as significant as air, we still need to be cautious about some of the risky internet practices we have as our routine. The more the internet is becoming common among every socio-economic class, the less safe it is for everyday use. In 2019 alone, over 2.5 billion user accounts were hacked by cybercrooks and fraudsters.
No matter what you do, sometimes your online behavior can be hazardous. Unsafe internet surfing can also lead to other dangers, such as embarrassing personal comments or images that are nearly impossible to remove once they are online or getting mixed up with people you’d rather not have anything to do with.
Here are the five common things you might be doing every day that make you vulnerable online.
- Uncontrolled data access and sharing: Data access and sharing should be simple and convenient to share files with colleagues and clients. Unfortunately, since many small businesses lack the proper file-sharing systems and policies, they often fall prey to risky practices that jeopardize both the company’s and their clients’ privacy.
In bigger organizations and companies, the main threat to data is the practice of shadow IT: it is the practice of employing unapproved IT solutions such as using personal email accounts at the workplace or using free cloud storage services. Irresponsibility on the part of corporate employees can jeopardize company and employee data and have disastrous consequences.
Not only in the workplace, but sharing your data and information among your friends and family members can also be a threat if any of them have bad intentions. So the goal is to stay aware of who has a good intent or who could possibly be a threat. Share your data only when it’s necessary to do so or with someone you can genuinely trust.
2. Using email to share data: The most common risky practice is sharing important data via email. Unfortunately, email servers were never intended to be secure. Before someone receives an email, it goes through an email server before getting to that person. As a result, cybercriminals who can sniff into the server can be a considerable threat to your data. In addition, anyone with immediate access to mail servers can easily view the files. As a result, the data is vulnerable.
3. Peer-to-peer file sharing: Peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing refers to the non-traditional way of sharing files, that is, using a software instead of the web browser to look for the files/media you need. BitTorrent is the most known example of P2P file sharing.
P2P file-sharing has gained popularity because of its super convenient nature. However, this practice can be threatening if not dealt with cautiously.
For instance, a Trojan virus can appear as a legitimate file before wreaking havoc. The virus may come with even more adware and malware that can affect your computer badly. Furthermore, peer-to-peer file sharing exposes your entire system to the internet. If the P2P software is incorrectly configured, your data may end up on P2P networks via the loophole. This means that anyone who connects to the network has access to the data.
4. Downloading free files: Despite having loads of efficient free websites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter etc., there are a plethora of websites on the internet that are scams and online frauds. These corrupt websites always keep an eye for a user to act vulnerable even for a short amount of time, and then attack their entire system.
These hackers target people searching for things like free software, files, movies, music, and anything else you don’t want or can’t afford to pay for. This means that you should be cautious if you’re looking for a free film or a program.
When installing a free file from the internet, keep an eye out for added toolbars and other PUP (Potentially Unwanted Programs). Both of these may be part of the reason the file is free in the first place.
The PUPs and free toolbars end up infecting your device, hacking it, and even installing additional software that you do not require or want on your computer. Before installing, make sure to select advanced options and uncheck any unwanted add-ons. Most of these PUPs are nearly impossible to remove once installed, so proceed with caution.
Insecure one-on-one online interaction: The world has become a global village. Almost all of us nowadays depend on social media applications in order to find and communicate with new people and befriend them for good company or business purposes.
Therefore, in case of one-on-one interaction with a buyer, or seller, or a conversation that leads to a plan of meeting up with an online friend that you have never met in person, make sure you verify their identity.
You can use Nuwber if they sound suspicious in any possible way. Put their name or number in the search bar. Look for the information and see what comes up. This way, both you and your valuable data will always stay protected from uncalled scammers.
Conclusion: Over time, human habits evolved, also including the ones related to technology. The Internet is inevitably the best inexpensive way to communicate, educate, and earn money.
However, many risky internet habits may put you and your data at threat.
The aim is not to be an open window for scammers online. To keep one’s data safe, one needs to develop healthy social media and internet habits. Take a note of all these habits and notice how many of these behaviors, as mentioned earlier, are a part of your daily internet routine.