The Internet is a world of its own. It is a vast and almost unimaginable amount of information at the fingertips of those connected. Along with the tremendous benefits of this wealth of information comes certain negative and somewhat dangerous aspects of the Internet. Many make common mistakes online that sometimes lead to unwelcomed consequences.
1. TMI (Too Much Information)
Before posting or giving out any information online, make sure that you know who the information is going to. Never, ever, ever, never, ever, give out your social security number, address, phone number, bank account information, or other private and potentially dangerous information in the wrong hands to anyone on the Internet period. Never post any of this information on publicly viewed sites or social networks that can be viewed by anyone. Even be cautious when you are sending any of this information to someone you know and trust because information traveling across the Internet can be intercepted.
2. Feeling you should be free to post anything to Social Network Sites
Let’s face it – social networks are simply a part of people’s way of life these days. However, everyone must be more conscience of the consequences of posting pictures and comments on social network sites. Employers and others are pouring over perusing social network sites to make sure the person they “think” they are hiring is who he or she really says they are. Think twice before posting bikini pictures or drunken party pictures as these will definitely no sit well in the professional scene and may even put current employment in jeopardy.
3. Sending an inappropriate email
Always think twice and even give yourself an entire day and night before sending an email that is either a rant or something potentially inappropriate. Most of the time the recall message doesn’t work in an Exchange environment especially if it has already been opened and sending messages across the Internet to others can be potentially damaging as well if it involves inappropriate language or lewd comments or pictures.
Those individuals that have never worked in technology before simply don’t realize the potential data longevity of any communication they make over the Internet or via electronic communications such as email. Email servers everywhere these days are backed up and information can be discovered months or sometimes even years after the fact. Bottom line when it comes to emails is unless you want an email to be a “resume generator” for you, do not send anything that you might regret later.
4. Using Insecure passwords and Using the Same Password for Everything
Passwords are oftentimes at the heart of our security. Most people out there use passwords that are simple words they know, birthdays, dates, names, and that sort of thing. These are used because they are easy to remember. We have all been guilty of this. However, these days, we need to think twice before using weak passwords online as this can lead to serious identity theft risks and other data fraud or theft that can take years to overcome if credit scores and other things are tarnished due to someone stealing our identity.
Always use strong passwords that are formed by using a whole phrase that maybe utilizes a letter for every word in the phrase. Also, use different passwords for your important sites such as financial institutions. If you have one password that is stolen, then if you have used different passwords, you won’t have to worry about all your private secured sites from being exposed. There are a lot of good password keeper programs out there that will store your passwords so you won’t have to remember them and will even generate good strong passwords for you as well.
5. Surfing the Internet on an Insecure, Unpatched, completely open computer
It is a huge mistake to surf the Internet with an insecure PC – perhaps no virus scan, severely behind on patches, old browsers, etc. By doing this you are exposing your files and your identity potentially to a malicious program or website that is designed to look for security holes and flaws which can compromise your security. Always use an up to date PC to surf the Internet and even consider using a non-administrator account to do your surfing. This extremely limits the attack surface so that the user you are surfing with doesn’t have full permissions to do just anything on the workstation. Even if a malicious program is able to run, this will limit what it is able to do to your PC.
Make sure you are pulling the latest Windows Updates as this will definitely reduce the likelihood that you will have your computer compromised. Get a good virus scan. There are a lot of great free virus scan programs out there like Avast and AVG.