By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about cybersecurity enough. In fact, most of us don’t think about it at all until we get a virus or find ourselves as a victim of a scam. The sad truth is that all of us are vulnerable to the whim of a cybercriminal. To protect yourself, make sure you aren’t making these common online security mistakes.
Staying signed into your online accounts
You probably check your social media accounts, like Facebook, several times a day. It’s convenient to stay signed in, but it also leaves you vulnerable to hackers. If you insist on staying logged in, make sure that you’re the only one using your account. All major social media sites have features that allow you to check on this. In Facebook, for instance, you can view your activity log by clicking on the arrow in the upper right corner of the screen.
Allowing your Amazon Echo/Google Home to record your conversations
Many people are buying and using home virtual assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. However, these devices are listening to your conversations all of the time (it’s how they respond to commands). If these devices are hacked, which they can be, any personal conversation you have in your home can be picked up by a hacker. Not to mention, law enforcement has attempted to subpoena Amazon/Google for criminal cases they are working on. Literally, every word you say around those devices is recorded, hence there’s a lot of value in that information. Consider turning off Voice Purchasing or simply muting the device’s mic when it’s not in use.
Leaving your webcam on
Many of us have exposed webcams on our computers. Webcams are great for things like Skype or FaceTime, but what you might not realize is that these, too, can be hacked. A hacker can view everything that your webcam sees, and all they need is for you to click a spammy link—say, in an email—and voila, they can watch your every move.
You have a few options here: First, you can simply put a piece of paper or tape over the camera. The other option is to use software that can alert you if someone tries to take control of your webcam. Or disable the webcam entirely by uninstalling the driver.
Skipping software updates
It can be a pain to download software updates. In fact, some people simply never do it at all. This is a big mistake. These software updates often contain security fixes, which help to protect your device from known vulnerabilities. Make sure your computer, phone, and all other devices that connect to the internet are up-to-date.
Not using a VPN on free WiFi
When you use WiFi at an airport, hotel, or anywhere that’s free, it’s entirely possible that your data and your device is being sniffed out by a hacker. A VPN provides a secure “tunnel” for your data to travel through, meaning it is encrypted and hidden from prying eyes. Use Hotspot Shield to keep your phone and computers secure.
Neglecting the terms and conditions
Most of us blindly ignore all of those little alerts you see when you download a new app. But, if you aren’t reading the fine print, you could be giving the app permission to track your every move or sell your personal information to other companies. Even some of the biggest companies out there, like Facebook, have been caught up in scandal because of what they do with your information. If you’re not paying attention to the small details, then you’re not adequately protecting your privacy.