It would be impossible nowadays to separate our everyday lives from technology. We travel well-worn, comfortable paths online and engage in digital activities that work for us. But could those seemingly harmless habits be putting out the welcome to cyber criminals out to steal our data?
It’s a given that our “digital-first mindset” comes with inherent risks. With the work and learn from home shift looking more permanent and cybercrime on the rise, it’s imperative to adopt new mindsets and put new skills in motion. The first step with any change? Admitting your family may have a few bad habits to fix. Here are just a few to consider.
7 Risky Digital Behaviors
1. You share toooo much online. Too Much Information, yes, TMI. Oversharing personal information online is easy access for bad actors online. Those out to do harm online have made it their life’s work to piece together your personal details so they can steal your identity—or worse. Safe Family Tips: Encourage your family not to post private information such as their full name, family member names, city, address, school name, extracurricular activities, and pet names. Also, get in the habit of a) setting social media profiles to private, b) regularly scrubbing personal information on social profiles—this includes profile info, comments, and even captions that reveal too much c) regularly editing your friends lists to people you know and trust.
2. You’ve gotten lazy about passwords. It’s tough to keep up with everything these days. We get it. However, passwords are essential. They protect your digital life—much like locks on doors protect your physical life. Safe Family Tips: Layer up your protection. Use multi-factor authentication to safeguard user authenticity and add a layer of security to protect personal data and all family devices. Consider adding comprehensive software that includes a password manager as well as virus and malware protection. This level of protection can add both power and peace of mind to your family’s online security strategy.
3. You casually use public Wi-Fi. It’s easy to do. If you are working away from home or on a family trip, you may need to purchase something, meet a deadline, or send sensitive documents quickly. Public Wi-Fi is easy and fast, but it’s also loaded with security gaps that cybercriminals camp out on. Safe Family Tip: If you must conduct transactions on a public Wi-Fi connection, consider McAfee Total Protection. It includes antivirus and safe browsing software, plus a secure VPN.
4. You have too many unvetted apps. We love apps, but can we trust them? Unfortunately, when it comes to security and privacy, apps are notoriously risky and getting tougher to trust as app technology evolves. So, what can you do? Safe Family Tips: A few things you can do include a) Double-checking app permissions. Before granting access to an app, ask yourself: Does this app need what it’s asking me to share? Apps should not ask for access to your data, b) researching the app and checking its security level and if there have been breaches, c) reading user reviews, d) routinely deleting dormant and unused apps from your phone. This is important to do on your phone and your laptop, e) monitor your credit report for questionable activity that may be connected to a malicious app or any number of online scams.
5. You’ve gotten too comfortable online. If you think that a data breach, financial theft, or catfish scam can’t happen to you or your family, it’s a sign you may be too comfortable online. Growing strong digital habits is an ongoing discipline. If you started strong but have loosened your focus, it’s easy to get back to it. Safe Family Tips: Some of the most vulnerable areas to your privacy can be your kids’ social media. They may be oversharing, downloading malicious apps, and engaging with questionable people online that could pose a risk to your family. Consider regularly monitoring your child’s online activity (without hovering or spying). Physically pick up their devices to vet new apps and check they’ve maintained all privacy settings.
6. You lack a unified family security strategy. Consider it: If each family member owns three devices, your family has countless security gaps. Closing those gaps requires a unified plan. Safe Family Tips: a) Sit down and talk about baseline security practices every family member should follow, b) inventory your technology, including IoT devices, smartphones, game systems, tablets, and toys, c) make “keeping the bad guys out” fun for kids and a challenge for teens. Sit and change passwords together, review privacy settings, reduce friend lists. Come up with a reward system that tallies and recognizes each positive security step.
7. You ignore updates. Those updates you’re putting off? They may be annoying, but most of them are security-related, so it’s wise to install them as they come out. Safe Family Tip: Many people make it a habit to change their passwords every time they install a new update. We couldn’t agree more.
Technology continues to evolve and open extraordinary opportunities to families every day. However, it’s also opening equally extraordinary opportunities for bad actors banking on consumers’ casual security habits. Let’s stop them in their tracks. If you nodded to any of the above habits, you aren’t alone. Today is a new day, and putting better digital habits in motion begins right here, right now.