Habit they say is a behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur intuitively.
The American Journal of Psychology defined a “habit, from the standpoint of psychology, as a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.”
By this, it simply means that a habit is formed by a sum total of repeated thought process and action. It is on this premise that there is urgent need for everyone to pay attention to some thought process and action that should form our online habit.
The Internet has redefined the way we live. And by virtue of this revolution, almost every human endeavour is now carried out online – business, governance, trade, social interaction, health, education, just name it. Soon we would get on to the IoT revolution. What this means is that our sense of security needs urgent update.
This writeup is a sincere attempt to point you to some attitudes you need to imbibe so as to guarantee a good level of safety while online.
Here are 10 online habits worth developing.
1. Learn to look, pause, confirm before you click.
This is one of the first line of instructions usually given in any cyber security awareness discuss. It means you should be mindful of the links you click on while surfing the Internet. A click on a malicious link can lead you to chains of agony.
- Know the difference between a secure site and an unsecure site. A secure site most cases has a padlock sign preceding the web address on the address bar and the address usually begins with https://.
- Avoid “click bait” headlines or promo popups that are too good to be true. They always lead to malicious sites that can infect your system with malware (trojans and viruses). Sometimes you see, “Congratulations, click to claim your prize”. Quickly ask yourself whether you entered any lottery on their site. If your answer is no, then run!
2. Learn to use strong passwords while creating account on any portal
When creating passwords, always pay attention to recommended requirements for a strong password. Make sure you strictly follow such instructions. Some of those requirements include
- Ensure to include a mix of numbers, symbols, and letters, both uppercase and lowercase e.g., 0nL1n3M@rt
- Do not use an easy-to-read dictionary word for a password. It takes less than a minute for a hacker to decipher such passwords and compromise your account.
- Do not use an easy to find information about you as your password e.g., Date of birth, anniversary dates, spouse name
- Longer passwords are always stronger, so try using long passwords. It might be a phrase or a statement from a favourite book. Be mindful of password length as some websites have length restriction on password options
3. Always enable Multi-factor authentication on your online accounts
Multi-factor authentication is an authentication method that requires the user to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to an online account or a digital resource. It makes an account more secure by requiring extra information other than a password or pin, to let access an account. It might be a code sent to your phone, a prompt for answer to a secret question or a generated token from a registered hardware device.
Some persons do not enable MFA because they believe it is always a long process. But that seemingly long process can save life! The same way you provide more than one level of security for your home, office or high value physical property, so you should treat your online accounts even more. You need to take your sense of physical security to the online space.
- To enable multi-factor authentication on an online account, check the site’s Settings page.
- Take that extra step to ensure you set it up and confirm two factor authentications. Though, in some cases multi-factor authentication is set at default for new users.
4. Learn to keep your software and applications up to date
Software updates is a way for developers to improve users’ experience. And in the process of this update, security features are also improved. There is always a tendency for a previous version of an app to have a vulnerability hole. An updated version of such app would among other features, tighten the security features so as to keep users free from backdoor hackers.
So next time you get a prompt for software update, ensure you install the update. And to be sue you are getting the right update, ensure to install your app from trusted sites/stores. Avoid pirated software, they can expose you to hackers.
5. Always log out from sites/portals when you are done using them.
Signing on to an account online is more like unlocking a personal safe or your home. And to not log out when you are done using that platform is more like leaving your home wide open and going to work. You know definitely it will take luck for you not to be rubbed. Same way, when leave your account logged on, especially on a system that you share with other persons. So many persons social media accounts have been compromised due to this.
If you must leave any of your accounts logged on, ensure it is on your personal device, and that your device security lock in enabled.
6. Learn to use up to date antivirus software on your devices.
An antivirus software is a utility software that is installed on a computer or mobile device with aim of protecting the device from virus, trojans, spyware and spam attacks.
Most antivirus software runs automatically at the background once installed. The autorun mode makes the antivirus provide real-time protection and as such delete or block any malicious application or access to the system. But to get the best out of your antivirus you must ensure you do the following;
- Ensure you install an original licensed antivirus or internet security software.
- Keep your virus software and virus database updated daily. If for any reason you do not have access to internet on your pc, ensure an update is done when you get connected back. You can set your antivirus update feature to automatic to guarantee a transparent update
7. Limit the personal information your share online
The way you cannot physically hand over your personal information to a total stranger, except you get to know the person, so also you should limit the personal information you share with millions of persons online especially on your social media accounts.
It is possible you share your name and work-related information, but never you throw out your information like phone numbers marital status, home address, where you are going your present location etc. This information can be hijacked by fraudulent persons who might use it to cajole and defraud you.
You need to have in mind that, no matter how well you may think you know the person you met online, you cannot really be sure of who they are and how dangerous they can be.
8. Keep your online accounts privacy settings enabled and regularly updated
Privacy setting are control buttons provided within your browser or an online account, which you can use to define your information sharing boundaries online. These settings give you the chance to take control of your information. Marketers as well as hackers, can trail you through your online information, with your privacy setting properly configured, you can limit who can have access to your shared information.
Most browsers and social media platforms have provision for privacy and security settings. The only challenge is that these settings are sometimes hidden and a bit hard to understand. And this is because the social network owners want your personal information for marketing purposes.
9. Learn to regularly clear your browser cache and cookies.
The act of clearing your browser cache and cookies is sometimes referred to as browser hygiene. A cookie is a small file that websites store on your computer. It is being used for websites to remember information or to record the users browsing history. Some information a cooky file might include, login information, credit/debit card information and also help advertisers show ads they think will be relevant to your interest. So, through cookies, your social media, email and many other services can easily be compromised.
10. Do not use public WiFi always connect to Internet via private WiFi.
Public WiFi networks like the ones you find at restaurants, parks, airport etc, are very unsecure. So, avoid using them, but if you must, ensure you know the risk involved. Public WiFi are not always secured and as such a hacker can connect to the same network and through it, hack your system, Also, avoid connecting your mobile device to public WiFi. If you happen to always be on the go, try and use a VPN service or software to encrypt your data.