We all hear it, but do we actually practice it? Safe Internet surfing, we have been preaching this for years but somehow the message doesn't seem to get through and for the most part I think it comes down to a couple of factors. The first factor would be convenience verse security. We all talk about security and we spend a lot of money on it, until it becomes inconvenient. Then the first thing we want to do is loosen the security up to make it easier. We don’t want any delays that might imped that next all important email, text message or instant message coming in at the speed of sound. Second I think it has to do with technology comfort, which is generational. Younger people are comfortable with the technology, especially the use of social media and mobility devices, that security is not something that they really think about. Millennials, from their perspective, feel someone else is looking out for them such as software companies, telecom carriers, or even in some cases Microsoft, Google and Apple.
A 2017 Tech Republic study had some interesting statistics on Safe Surfing. According their study, tech savvy people are 18% more likely to fall victim to cybercrime such as identity theft. Tech Republic also found that less than 4% or let’s call it 96% of respondents do not follow “all the basic security recommendations”. The report went on to show that more than 40% of respondents admit that they are simply too lazy, don’t care, or don’t want to be bothered with what it takes to be safe online.
What are some of the things that you can do to protect yourself while surfing online?
Don’t share the love. With the growth of social media we have become a society that loves to share. We are proud of our kids, dogs, friends and our hobbies. However, with all that sharing comes the love and statistically buried in all that love and sharing are your passwords. All I need is time to gain access to your social media accounts and sooner or later your password could be compromised. Reduce the amount of stuff you share online, don’t share dates, names, places or other things that might reveal more than you want.
Be security minded, most public WIFI’s are not secure which leaves you open for hacking. Make sure that when working from home you use a router that is password protected and encrypted. Use a VPN connection, including a personal VPN, when working off your corporate network. These are things that you should consider doing all the time and making them habit forming so that you automatically do them to keep your personal security at a higher level.
Complex passwords are always important; however, we have become almost numb to what complex means. Then comes the problem of remembering them all. One thing that I have started telling people is stop using words, instead use a phrase you can remember. Phrases are longer, have capital letters, sometimes numbers and multiple spaces. A simple phrase such as “Who is going to win the football game tonight?”, now becomes a very difficult password to crack and is easy to remember.
Protect your mobile device, as online threats have evolved and grown in sophistication mobile devices have become as big a target as laptops and desktops. Their operating systems are now just as vulnerable as any other computer and face the same threats from risky apps and dangerous links. It is now just as important to have virus protection on your mobile devices, ensure that your security is enabled and don’t respond to text messages or emails from people you don’t know.
Protecting yourself when surfing the internet regardless of if you are at work or surfing off a mobile device, you have to practice safe surfing. Surfing safe does not mean don’t surf, it does mean you have to be aware of the threats and make security part of your lifestyle when it comes to being on the internet. Common sense things like not writing down or sharing passwords, keeping your software and devices up to date, and knowing who you are communicating with online are simple things that will help you surf safe and keep your private data private.