If you spend any amount of time online, chances are you’ve heard the phrase Top 10 digital security risksat least once or twice in a passing conversation. But what exactly does it mean? In this article, we will define what digital security risk is and outline 10 of the most common risks that affect online users today—along with tips on how to stay safe! For example, did you know that 90% of security attacks take place from within your network, not from outside sources? If so, then you’re already well on your way to keeping your personal information safe from cybercriminals!
Top 10 digital security risks you need to know about
- Understand how they work
- Don’t give away information freely
- Use strong passwords
- Take care when connecting devices
- Keep your devices safe
- Review your privacy settings
- Password protect your phone
- Update your software regularly
- Passwords can be reset, phones cannot!
- Be prepared if something goes wrong
1) Understand how they work
Hackers can steal your personal data and hold it for ransom by infecting your device with malware. Malware is a type of software that takes over a computer or smartphone without authorization, usually in order to steal data or make money from fake advertising on web pages. There are three types of malware: viruses, spyware, and trojans. Viruses are programs that attach themselves to existing programs on your phone and replicate over time as they spread from one file or folder to another. Some viruses can even infect computers when you open infected email attachments. Spyware works similarly, but with smartphones – it collects personal information like texts, call logs, and browser history and sends it back to criminals.
2) Don’t give away information freely
Think twice before giving information away online. Phishing scams, malware, and other malicious software can take advantage of people who share too much online or provide their personal information without a second thought. If you’re worried about identity theft, don’t use social media sites that make it easy for others to get your personal data. If you must have an account with these sites, be cautious about what details you share. Here are some examples: A Facebook profile shouldn’t include any more personal data than your name and age group.
3) Use strong passwords
Staying safe online means using strong passwords, not reusing them across multiple sites, and getting a password manager (yes, really). Password managers such as LastPass or 1Password let you use long, unique passwords without having to remember them. Just remember your master password—the one that gives you access to all of your other logins—and generate one-off codes for every site and service on which you’re registered. You can even print off paper copies of your passwords so they’re never compromised if there’s ever a breach. Of course, storing all those hard-to-remember passwords in an easy-to-access location is risky too. Choose wisely!
4) Take care when connecting devices
The Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing us closer than ever to a world filled with connected devices. You may have an internet-connected thermostat, light bulbs, and even pet feeders. Though these are convenient for monitoring and controlling your home remotely, they also open up more channels for hackers and cybercriminals to get into your system. The best way to keep yourself safe from risk? Limit which devices you allow onto your network by only allowing access through controlled accounts rather than giving out your credentials. If anything happens, change those passwords immediately.
If you’re looking for a product that already comes with an existing network or Wi-Fi connection, keep in mind that some of these devices may be connected to your neighbor’s system. If possible, turn off their internet access and make sure no one else can get access by using their credentials. You can do so on your Wi-Fi router by enabling password protection and ensuring only devices with a designated SSID can connect. To make sure someone won’t be able to guess your credentials when they steal them, set up unique passwords for each device and change them often. This will also ensure that if one of your devices is hacked or compromised, it doesn’t open up every other linked product to attack as well.
5) Keep your devices safe
Just like physical safes, there are a lot of ways you can secure your devices. The best thing to do is diversify: Don’t just protect your phone with a passcode, keep it off and locked in a drawer when not in use. Encrypt its data. Your laptop should be plugged into an Ethernet cable or at least Wi-Fi that isn’t easily accessible from outside your home or office.
Also, remember that just because your devices are encrypted and in a safe doesn’t mean they can’t be lost or stolen. Use a trusted file backup service like Google Drive or Dropbox, so if your device does get lost or stolen at least you won’t lose any important information. It’s also worth considering one of many two-factor authentication apps available for Android and iOS as another layer of protection.
You should also try not to let your personal life overlap with your professional life online – keeping them separate can help prevent data from being accessible when it shouldn’t be.
6) Review your privacy settings
The saying goes that when it comes to privacy, privacy is (sort of) dead. In a lot of ways, that’s true. We live in an always-connected world and sometimes we must accept some loss of privacy if we want to continue enjoying new technological advancements. However, there are still things you can do—and things you can avoid doing—to protect your personal information online and limit potential damage from hacking attacks and other data breaches. While everyone is at risk, certain populations (like high-profile individuals and celebrities) are especially vulnerable. While there’s no way to completely ensure your safety online, using these tips will help keep your digital security as safe as possible for now.
7) Password protect your phone
No password, no entry. It may seem like a nuisance, but it’s worth your while. Setting up a lock screen with a PIN or passcode is as easy as one-two-three: Go into your phone’s settings and find Security. Select Screen Lock (usually found under Security), select whatever type of password protection you want to use, and input your PIN/password combination. A quick Google search will tell you what sort of passcode is most secure for your phone model; for example, iPhones that are iPhone 3G or earlier should have 4-digit codes, while 5th generation devices should have six digits. If someone finds your phone unlocked, they won’t be able to access anything without knowing that code!
8) Update your software regularly
If there’s one thing that everyone can do to keep their devices secure, it’s update software. Software creators release updates every single day. While bugs aren’t necessarily intentional, they sometimes create vulnerabilities that hackers can take advantage of. This means anyone who hasn’t updated a device in a long time could be leaving themselves open for attack. If your computer is more than a few years old or if you don’t have an up-to-date smartphone, now might be a good time to consider upgrading.
Updates not only fix bugs and vulnerabilities but also add new features. It’s a small inconvenience, but updating software will improve your device’s performance in little ways that make a big difference over time. As well as getting new updates on your computer, it’s important to update apps regularly so you have access to their newest features. Keep an eye out for app alerts on your phone so you can update apps whenever there’s a change or improvement. It’ll help ensure your devices are safer and more efficient at all times.
9) Passwords can be reset, phones cannot!
A study found that 41% of people are stumped when asked to provide passwords for apps and social media accounts. It’s more evidence that people today have entirely too many different passwords, which makes it all too easy for someone else to gain access. The best way to make sure no one can use your password is never, ever tell anyone your password. That way, if hackers get a hold of any of your passwords, they’ll be locked out of everything else as well. If you absolutely must give someone access, enable two-factor authentication on that account before handing over access—that way they won’t be able to log in without something only you possess, like a phone or secondary email address.
10) Be prepared if something goes wrong
If something bad happens, be ready to deal with it. Keep all your data backed up in multiple locations (cloud services such as Box and Dropbox can help). Or, if you’re a PC user, use software like Kaspersky Rescue Disk that’s specifically designed for situations where you have no choice but to bring in a third-party tool. It should also have an auto-repair function built-in so it fixes issues that prevent normal operation. And though everyone hates rebooting their computer, consider keeping a bootable version of your operating system around (such as a disc or USB drive) so that if things really go south and you can’t access your files on a PC, you’ll still be able to fix any problems using another computer.