We all know the internet isn’t always the safest place. Time and time again we’ve heard and read stories about security breaches, identity theft, fraud, cyberbullying, online predators, catfish scams and much more. With cybercrime on the rise and more people learning and working from home, it is crucial that we practice safeguarding online habits to protect ourselves and our personal data.

We use our digital devices for pretty much everything. From groceries to banking, everything is done right from our fingertips. What many of us fail to realize is that most of our online activities put us at high risk for malware, ransomware attacks, and system compromise. The first step is admitting you have a few bad online habits, the second is recognizing those risky digital behaviours that can potentially put you and your family in harm’s way:

  1. Oversharing online: TMI is a real thing. Sharing “too much information” online gives cybercriminals easy access to your personal data. It is important to keep your personal details private to prevent fraudsters from piecing together information about your life that could eventually lead to identity theft or fraud. Refrain from posting information such as your full name and address, and set your social media profiles to private to avoid strangers with a hidden agenda.
  2. Using public Wi-Fi: It’s free and convenient! How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you’re on a trip and needing access to Wi-Fi so you can upload a picture of lunch to your Instagram story or post a selfie at the beach on Facebook? Don’t be fooled – open wireless networks are hunting grounds for cybercriminals who are looking to trick you into connecting to a hacker-controlled device where they are able to compromise your personal data. Use cybersecurity tools that will help keep you safe from malicious attacks.
  3. Opening attachments or clicking links: Phishing scams have become a common method for cybercriminals to gain access to your accounts and networks. When someone you know or a familiar business sends you an email or text with an attachment/link, it’s important to think before you click anything. Often cybercriminals have hacked a friend’s device or appear as a legitimate business with the intentions of you clicking something that will infect your device with malware. Be savvy and trust well-known third-party file exchanges such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive.
  4. Recycling your password: How many of us have shared our Netflix login credentials with family members and friends? Many of us use the same password for all our online accounts or tend to share passwords with others. Once a cybercriminal gets a hold of your password, the risk of theft in all other accounts greatly increases. Never share your password, use 2-step authentication, and use unique and hard-to-guess passwords for each of your accounts.
  5. Too many apps: Downloading apps can be tempting, especially when they are free. According to statistics, the average person has about 40 apps installed on their phone, and more than half of them aren’t used. Many apps can be risky and have the ability to infect your device with malware or compromise your personal information. Make sure to only download apps from official app stores, be savvy when it comes to permissions the app is requesting and do your research when checking security levels and reviews.

As technology continues to evolve, so should our digital habits. These are just a few of the many risky internet behaviours that we should be able to recognize and mitigate in order to safely use our devices and avoid scams.

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