7 Bad Habits That Are Killing Your Security

Photo: Peter Dressel / Getty

Bad habits, everybody has them. Whether it’s convenience, laziness, security fatigue, or just apathy, we all develop bad computing habits over the years, which could be detrimental to our security posture. Here are 7 of the most common security-related bad habits that can be the most harmful to your overall security:

1. Simple Passwords and Passcodes

Is “password” your password? Maybe you got really clever and made it “password1”. Guess what? A hacker will likely crack even your most brilliantly crafted simple password within seconds if it contains any dictionary words at all.

Create a strong password that is long, complex, and random. Check out our article on How to Craft a Strong Password for some details on how you can make a robust password. Check out this article on password cracking to help you understand what you're up against.  

2. Reusing The Same Password on Multiple Websites

You should never reuse the same password across multiple websites because if it is cracked once, chances are it will be tried on other sites by the person who cracked it. Always use unique passwords for each site where you have an account.

3. Not Updating Your Security Software

If you didn’t purchase your annual antivirus update subscription (or move to a product that doesn’t charge for updates) then your system is going unprotected against the CURRENT batch of threats that are in the wild.

You should ALWAYS use the auto-update feature offered by your anti-malware solution and check it periodically to make sure that it’s actually working and receiving updates

4. Using the Default Settings on Everything

Using out-of-the-box passwords for anything is usually not a good idea, especially when it comes to wireless networks. If you are using a default non-unique wireless network name then you may have increased the odds that your wireless network can be hacked. Learn why this might be the case in our article:  Is Your Network Name a Security Risk?

Defaults settings are not always the most secure setting

The default setting on pretty much anything is not necessarily the most secure setting, a lot of time,  default settings are the most compatible but this does not equal the most secure.

A good example of this principle would be if you had an older router that had the default wireless security setting of WEP encryption. WEP was hacked many years ago and now WPA2 is the standard for newer routers. WPA2 may be an available option on older routers, but it may not have been the default, because a manufacturer could have set it to what it thought was the most compatible with the technologies, which, at the time, may have been WEP or the first version of WPA.

5. Oversharing on Social Media

Many people seem to throw common sense out the window when it comes to sharing personal information on social media sites such as Facebook. It’s become such a phenomena that we have given it its own term: “oversharing”. Read The Dangers of Facebook Oversharing, for an in-depth look at this topic.

6. Sharing Too Much as “Public”

A lot of us probably haven’t checked our Facebook privacy settings to see what they are set to in many years. Everything you post could be set as shared with 'Public' and you might not even realize it until you review your Facebook privacy settings. You should revisit these settings periodically and use the tools that Facebook provides for securing content that you have posted in the past.

Facebook has a tool that allows you to change all your previously shared content and makes it all “Friends Only” (or something more restrictive if you prefer). Check out our Facebook Privacy Makeover article for some other Facebook privacy housekeeping tips.

7. Location Sharing

We share our location a lot on social media without thinking twice. Check out our article on Why Location Privacy Is Important to find out why you probably shouldn’t share this information with others.