Watching YouTube videos, sending emails, scrolling through the Facebook news feed, or even reading a blog post like this is largely conducted online. Every single piece of information we share online contributes to our digital footprint, necessitating continual protection against online threats such as scams and malware. While the task of implementing best practices for online safety may seem daunting, worry not! We’ve outlined the common cybersecurity mistakes individuals often make online and provided actionable alternatives.

Mistake #1: Using Same Passwords Across Multiple Accounts

Using the same password across multiple accounts poses a significant security risk. When a single password is compromised, it grants unauthorized access to all linked accounts, leaving individuals vulnerable to identity theft, financial fraud, and privacy breaches. This practice also facilitates cyberattacks, as hackers can exploit reused passwords across various platforms.

What to do instead: Never reuse passwords. Instead, use a password manager like Google Password Manager or Dashlane, which makes it easier to generate and keep track of unique sign-in credentials. Many websites send password reset links to your registered email. This means that if someone gains access to your email account, they could easily take over your other accounts by resetting their passwords.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Software Updates

Software updates are among the most annoying notifications we often receive, seeming to occur at the most inconvenient times. Many of us tend to neglect these updates and continue with our work. However, numerous harmful malware attacks exploit vulnerabilities in common applications such as operating systems and browsers. These updates often include essential security patches that address these vulnerabilities exploited by attackers. Delaying them puts your devices, data, and privacy at risk.

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What to do instead: Prioritizing timely software updates is essential for maintaining a healthy and secure digital life. Regularly update your devices’ software, ensuring you benefit from the latest security patches and protections.

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Mistake #3: Disregarding 2-Step Verification

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Another critical oversight in online security is the failure to activate 2-step Verification. Two-factor authentication (2FA) — also known as two-step verification or multifactor authentication — is widely used to add a layer of security to your online accounts. The most common form of two-factor authentication when logging into an account involves entering your password and then receiving a code via text on your phone or authenticator app, which you then need to enter. The second layer in two-factor authentication means that a hacker or other nefarious individual would need to steal both your password and your phone to access your account.

What to do instead: Turn on 2-Step Verification. Once it is on, 2-Step Verification sends prompts to your phone to allow log-in attempts. It adds an extra layer of protection, making unauthorized access to your account a significantly more challenging feat. It’s like having a second lock on your digital door — a small inconvenience for a significant boost in security.

Mistake #4: No Screen Lock PIN on Mobile

Locking the screen of our mobile devices is just like securing the front door of our home—it’s essential for keeping our stuff safe. Think about it: without a screen lock, anyone who picks up our phone can peek into our private chats, scroll through our photos, and even access our bank accounts! It’s like handing over the keys to our digital life on a silver platter. Plus, having a screen lock not only protects our precious data but also acts as a shield against sneaky thieves.

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What to do instead: Opt for a robust screen lock option, such as a complex password or biometric authentication, which utilizes fingerprint or facial recognition.

Mistake #5: Falling for Suspicious Links

Think of clicking on suspicious links like walking down a dark alley in a sketchy neighborhood—it’s risky business! These links often lead to trouble, whether it’s sneaky hackers trying to steal our personal info or shady websites looking to infect our devices with nasty viruses.

What to do instead: Stay vigilant; be wary of any links you click on, even ones that look legitimate. For an extra layer of protection, make sure to enable Google Enhanced Safe Browsing, which identifies and warns against a list of known phishing and malware sites that is updated in real time.

By following the mentioned advice, you can build a strong digital defense and navigate the ever-changing digital landscape with confidence.