Online Scams

5 online habits that could expose you to cybercrime – are you doing them?

Written by a NortonLifeLock employee


Cybercrime might seem like something that happens to other people but it's more common than you think. A staggering 44 percent of consumers were affected by it last year, according to the 2017 Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report.

Nobody wants to imagine being the victim of a cybercrime but think how much worse you would feel if it was something that you could have prevented. We usually hear about high profile attacks on the news but the reality is that the victims of most attacks are normal, everyday people.

You might be leaving yourself open to an attack or taking unnecessary risks without even realising it. To help you shore up any cracks in your online defences, we've come up with a list of bad habits that could leave you exposed to some serious real world consequences.

Bad habits online #1. Using one password for everything

Have you ever felt like you're drowning in a sea of passwords? You need a password to access your email, bank, social media, apps, streaming sites and on and on. Is it any wonder that some people decide to use a single password for every single account?

However, one fifth of all cybercrime victims used the same password across all accounts and 58 percent shared at least one device or account password with others. Using one password may be convenient but it also leaves your most secure online account as vulnerable as your least secure account.

If a cybercriminal can crack a poorly-protected account and get your master password, all your digital defences will collapse like a house of cards.

Bad habits online #2. Trusting public Wi-Fi networks

Public Wi-Fi networks might seem safe but you never know what's going on under the surface, particularly if it's an unsecured network. If an unsecured Wi-Fi network lets you connect to it without a password or a login, this hotspot may be hotter than you think.

A common threat from Wi-Fi networks is Man-in-the-Middle attacks, where attackers intercept the information you are sending or receiving. You could also be using an unencrypted network, which means that anyone can eavesdrop on the signal.

Essentially, you could be broadcasting everything you’re doing to a criminal. Not good!

A solid rule of thumb is to stick to secured public networks but even “secured” networks aren't necessarily safe. Malicious hotspots can mimic legitimate networks by using believable names to trick you into connecting, allowing attackers to access your sensitive information. Avoid using public networks to shop online and don't access bank accounts, sensitive personal data or social media accounts using public Wi-Fi.

Bad habits online #3. Beware of strange messages or attachments

Good cybersecurity is often about trusting your instincts. If you get an unsolicited email or message from someone you don't know, think twice before opening it. A common phishing tactic is to send someone an attachment or link that contains some sort of malware (malicious software that could infect your device) or a trojan, often with a tempting title or a message designed to make you click into it.

The message can sometimes come from the account of a friend or family member who has been hacked or compromised. So if you get a suspect message or link from someone you know, it's no harm to contact them to doublecheck that it's safe.

Bad habits online #4. Not changing your Wi-Fi or modem password

Many people don’t consider their Wi-Fi or modem password, but changing it should be on your list of things to do. It's tempting to just leave the default password in place. After all, they usually look like really strong passwords. The reality is that default passwords can be easily bypassed and you could have freeloaders slowing down your connection before you know it.

You'll need to open your router's configuration page to change the settings. On a PC, press Windows + R buttons, type cmd and hit Enter. At the command prompt window, type ipconfig and hit Enter to discover your router address. If you're using a Mac, open “System Preferences” and click the “Network” icon. Choose “Wi-Fi” and go into the “Advanced” Tab. Select the “TCP/IP” tab and it will show you your router's IP address.

Once you have your router's IP address, copy it into the address field of your browser and hit Enter. This will bring you to the configuration page where you'll be able to log in and change your password settings.

Bad habits online #5. Leaving yourself unprotected

Nobody expects to be the victim of a cyber-attack but one way to avoid it is to take some basic precautions. A reliable antivirus solution is the first line of defence against online threats like malware, adware and spyware. Pairing it with specific tools that stop popular cyberattacks like ransomware and keep you safe from being phished through your emails is just as important though and can’t be overlooked as you try to stay a step ahead of cybercriminals.

The last thing you want is to leave yourself exposed when you go online. This is especially true with your smartphone, which can contain a treasure trove of sensitive information in your email and other apps. Take a moment to stop and think about what’s on your smartphone right now – personal photos, bank account logins and private conversations are likely available to whoever has access to them. It’s all valuable data that cybercriminals know is stored on mobile devices with often no security for it.

If you want to bolster your online security, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) adds an extra layer of encryption to keep your data safe. Two-factor authentication can also be easily set up so that anyone looking to access an account or device will have to go through an extra security step on top of the traditional password login. You’ll. get a text with a code that you’ll have to input on the device you’re accessing – so to get into your account, a hacker would need your phone, phone number, and password.

It's your last defence if your password is compromised.

Keeping yourself safe online is all about forming good habits. The best way to prevent attack is to take the necessary precautions to make sure you’re protected.

Protect yourself online

Keep yourself safe online with Norton Security Deluxe. It helps to protect your devices with real-time protection against online threats, whether it be locking your private photos behind a folder with a password or applying a four-digit pin so you’re the only one posting from your social media accounts. With so much of our lives now stored digitally, you can never be too careful.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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