Five Tech Habits That Make You Vulnerable Online

From approving every friend request to overusing autofill, here are 5 tech habits that make you vulnerable online

You think you’re doing a good job of protecting your identity online if you follow all the average advice. Every account has a different password, and you’re careful not to share too much on social media. Unfortunately, even if you do these things, you could still put yourself at risk of being hacked or having your identity stolen.

There are other habits that are little-known or aren’t taken as seriously that can make you just as vulnerable online as opening an email from an unfamiliar sender:

  • You don’t update software right away
  • You friend complete strangers
  • You leave unused accounts open
  • You use autofill a little too much
  • You leave your devices unattended

You Don’t Update Software Right Away

You know you need to update software on your computer regularly, but all that updating can be annoying! You aren’t alone if you put off updates for days or even weeks at a time, but if you do, you could be making yourself more vulnerable.

Whether you look into a patch management system at work to make sure everything is getting updated on time or you’re at home and you always click to update your software as soon as you’re notified, it’s important to complete updates as soon as possible.

You may not know exactly what the update is for, but in many cases, the update is closing a hole or fixing a bug that can put your information at risk. The longer you don’t patch up the problem, the more time hackers have to gain access to your system.

You Friend Complete Strangers

We’ve all heard about the dangers of meeting strangers in person that we’ve met online, especially when it comes to kids, but not as many people think twice about friending a stranger online if you don’t have any intention of meeting them in person. However, it can be just as dangerous.

That means not friending a complete stranger on Facebook, but it also means being careful about not connecting with someone on professional platforms, like LinkedIn, simply because they sent you a request. Hackers often reach out to potential victims this way because many people friend without a second thought. Once they have access to the information in your profile, it’s easy to steal your identity.

You Leave Unused Accounts Open

As time goes by and you’ve spent decades of your life online, there are inevitably going to be accounts that you no longer use. Whether it’s shopping accounts on retailer websites, social media accounts, or subscriptions, it’s easy to end up with dozens of accounts, many of which you don’t use anymore.

The more accounts you have, the more vulnerable you are online. Even though it takes some time, it’s important to comb through all of your accounts and delete the ones you don’t use on a regular basis. It will reduce the amount of information about you that’s online, and it ensures you have control over the information you do share online.

You Use Autofill a Little Too Much

Many platforms offer autofill that makes logging in easy because you don’t have to remember your information. Unfortunately, it has the potential to make you vulnerable online.

If you visit a compromised webpage, your information can easily be compromised. It’s even easier if hackers can gain access to your system through public Wi-Fi.

Instead, type in all of your information every time, and make sure each keystroke is hidden so prying eyes can’t see. It may take a bit more time, but it will keep your information safe.

You Leave Your Devices Unattended

So much attention is paid to being safe in the digital world that people start to forget some of the things that can keep you safe in the real world, like never leaving your devices unattended.

Whether you’re getting up from your desk at work to go to the vending machine or you’re going to the bathroom at a coffee shop, it’s important that you don’t leave your devices active while they are unattended. It only takes a few seconds for someone to get the information they need if you give them access to your computer or another device. 

Make sure you pick great passwords and limit the information you share on social media, but don’t stop there. From not approving every friend request to disabling autofill, there are even more things you should be doing to stay safe while you’re online.

David Harfield
He's the editor of FanAppic and a contributor to iPhoneGlance - we reckon he's got a bit of a thing for iPhones...