As the Internet continues to make information more accessible, here are some security mistakes that put our privacy at risk.

Nearly all of us take cybersecurity for granted, until our account is hacked, savings pilfered, or compromising data shared all over the Internet. Today, hackers can easily access your data or even hack smart appliances like your fridge, blinds, lights, toaster, and even your fish tank. With all these possibilities, it is difficult to know if you are truly protected. To counter this, avoid these common security pitfalls:


While you may have created complex passwords that are hard to guess, it is also important to keep your smartphone or computer's software up to date, and avoid phishing schemes. But a critical security mistake most people still make online is oversharing. It is not just sensitive personal data like phone numbers, credit card numbers, and addresses that you should avoid sharing online, but also seemingly harmless information like your mother's maiden name, pet names, birthdays, favourite colours, first car, favorite sport and more. Such details are often used as answers to two-step verification questions or passwords, and can easily be found by scanning Facebook profiles.

Giving Out Information

Think critically when it comes to the companies and organisations seeking your personal information. Does the new-patient form at a doctor's office really need your bank account details? Will it have any effect on your visit? If your data is breached and this sensitive information is compromised, you are going to have a whole other set of problems.

Knowing why a company needs your information is especially critical when it comes to app permissions. Companies like Apple and Google are trying to make it easier for apps to access different parts of your phone. But it is up to you to keep track of what these apps are actually accessing.

Reining AI

Users may love useful artificial intelligence (AI) functions like Google Home or ordering online via Amazon Echo’s Alexa ‘Voice Purchasing’. But AI can lead to misuse very quickly, such as Amazon’s ‘Drop In’ feature which, when enabled, allows Echos to automatically connect to another Echo to start a conversation. The other party does not even have to answer the call, the line is automatically open, and it works like an intercom system. The danger in this is self-explanatory.

Leaving Accounts Open

The average person checks Facebook 14-18 times every day. The same goes for Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube, and many other apps and social media accounts. Usually, individuals leave their accounts open and this unwittingly welcomes hackers.

Skipping The Fine Print

If you are like me, I am sure that when you find a new app you love, you install it immediately. But with many apps, skipping the fine print gives the app developer access to your location and other sneaky rights. Make sure you read through the fine print before you install your next app.

Neglecting Security Updates

Hackers work 24/7 to find chinks in your computer’s armor. So do download security updates as soon as you are notified of them as they protect against the latest glitches. Routers are also hacked, providing unlimited access to your devices, files and network. It is up to you to ensure your router is using the latest firmware and is protected.

Unprotected Home WiFi

Leaving your home network unprotected is asking for trouble. Neighbours, criminals, or even people in a passing car can easily hack into an unprotected network and steal your information. Hackers even set up fake networks hoping people will connect. Make sure you create a strong WiFi password and change it regularly. You can also set up a separate guest network, thus keeping your home network secure for members of the household.

Sharing Private Life Events

Sharing photos of yourself on holiday, or even posting about how every Thursday night is date night, gives this private information to bad guys who want to steal your identity or rob your house while you are away. It is best to keep details about your life private and offline.

Using Public WiFi

This includes free Wi-Fi at Starbucks, McDonalds or at airports, as these can be readily hacked. Turn off your WiFi and use encrypted 3G or 4G networks instead.

There is no foolproof way to prevent identity theft or other security risks. However, cutting back on such mistakes can make you less of a target.

About The Writer

Bob Pritchard has 40 years experience as an international business consultant on five continents, holding many high profile management and board positions. He is a best selling author of five business books, a daily business newsletter with over 1.7 million readers, host of the Bob Pritchard Business Radio Show for nine years and winner of the prestigious International Marketer of the Year Award. Bob is renowned for his vast international experience and practical down to earth advice to drive sales and profitability.

This article was first printed in MillionaireAsia Issue 53 - September 2019

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