9 Things To Stop Doing Online Right Now

Photo: Courtesy Facebook.
It’s easy to get comfortable in your daily routine, particularly online, where you share things with your networks of friends and followers on a regular basis. But between public social networks and public Wi-Fi networks, you may not realize quite how much you could be sharing with complete strangers.

On Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, your innocuous (and FOMO-inducing) vacation updates may actually be a security concern — especially if you’re posting them from a bustling coffee shop.

“The major hazard with public Wi-Fi is the fact that all the information you’re transferring...is available to everybody on the network,” David Maimon, University of Maryland Assistant Professor in Criminology and Criminal Justice, told Digital Trends. Others can listen in to your private conversations, learn your passwords, or gain control of your online accounts.

So here’s a list of nine bad habits you should ditch immediately in order to keep your digital self safe.

This article originally ran September 4, 2015.
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Photo: Courtesy Netflix.
Don't: Reuse Your Password In Multiple Apps
It can be tempting to reuse the same password or two for all of the different apps and sites you have accounts with. But we have one thing to say about that: Don't do it. With security situations such as the latest Dropbox hack happening with increasing frequency, you're putting yourself at serious risk for being hacked on another service if you reuse the same email, username, and password combos. Instead, use a password manager to keep track of your logins.
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Photo: Courtesy Starbucks.
Don’t: Send Any Sensitive Information Over Public Wi-Fi
If you wouldn’t want the world knowing about it, don’t share it over public Wi-Fi. If you’re working from Starbucks or the airport, try to avoid accessing private financial information, like your bank account, or sharing personal details via email or social media. It’s incredibly easy for someone to intercept the data you’re transmitting from your computer when you’re on open Wi-Fi, which means you’re vulnerable to that information getting into the wrong hands.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Don’t: Connect To Strange WiFi Networks
FreeFriendlyWiFi, well that sounds like a good network to connect to. Stop! If you aren’t sure what Wi-Fi network is the one provided by your local cafe, don’t just connect to any old hub. Ask a manager for the credentials of their network. It’s not unheard of for criminals to set up hotspots in busy areas. (Check out this cautionary tale if you don’t believe us.)
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Photo: Courtesy Facebook.
Don’t: Share Your Phone Number
Most people have wisened up to this one, but you still see the Facebook posts crop up every once in a while: Hey everyone, I lost my phone over the weekend and I’ve got a new number now, XXX-XXXX! While it’s one of the quickest ways to get your number out to people who may want it, it’s also a.) Highly likely to be missed by followers who don’t check social media that often and b.) Also likely to be viewed by friends of friends and marketers. If you’ve got your contacts backed up to iCloud or Google (always a good idea), you can send out a text message with your new number. Alternatively, you can share a post that you’ve got a new number. If anyone wants it, they can DM you — and you can take it from there.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Don’t: Share Social Or Vacation Plans On Social Media
Sharing a status update on Saturday’s big barbecue at the park may be a good idea if you’re hoping for a big turnout, but not such a good idea in terms of home and personal safety. For starters, you’re broadcasting where you’re going to be at a given time, which could be dangerous if you have ever had a stalker (or a crazy ex). Second, you’re also sharing when you’re not home, which could make you more vulnerable to being robbed. This is especially true if you’re sharing a selfie of yourself on a faraway beach, captioned with how the next two weeks are going to be amazing. You just told anyone who can view that photo (and potentially, their friends, too) that you are far from your abode — and for how long.
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Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Don’t: Post Everything To Every Social Network
You’ve got your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and LinkedIn all completely synced so when you post an update to one network, it goes everywhere at once. While we applaud you for your social diligence and efficiency, this isn’t the best thing to do. Nowadays, each platform has evolved with its own set of best practices and expectations. If you want to maximize your followers on a particular channel, it’s best to cater your post so it makes the most sense on that platform: Shorten your message or link out on Twitter; add a bunch of relevant hashtags on Instagram; include a snappy GIF on Tumblr — you get the picture. If everything is linked, it's possible a hacker could then post to your other social media accounts if one account gets compromised.

And this way, you don’t irritate the people who’ve taken the time to follow you on multiple networks and may not appreciate getting spammed with the same exact image and caption five different times.
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Photo: Courtesy @scoutfashion/Instagram.
Don’t: Publicly Share Photos Of Kids With Their Real Names
Adults have the ability to untag themselves from images they don’t want to be publicly identified in, but kids don’t have that option. A lot of savvy parents these days are only referring to their children online through a hashtag or a nickname, protecting their identity without forsaking the fun of sharing family photos. This has an added bonus of giving the child a mostly clean slate when they get older and start building a web presence of their own — instead of googling their name and seeing a hundred embarrassing baby photos their relatives posted online decades ago.
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Photo: Courtesy @giggities/Instagram.
Don’t: Share Private, Identifiable Information On Social Media
It may be fun talking about your pets with colleagues on Twitter or Instagram, but if “Fluffy” is also the answer to security questions for your online accounts, you shouldn’t be sharing it with the world. This may seem fairly obvious, but sometimes you get wrapped up in a conversation online and it’s easy to let things slip. You also want to keep mum about your current or past home locations and sharing anything that’s exceedingly unique and identifiable to you — it could help someone else fake your identity.
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Photo: Courtesy Bank of America.
Don’t: Share Passwords
There are some situations where password sharing is totally acceptable, such as Netflix and HBO Go, but when it comes to email, banking, Facebook, and Twitter, there’s no need to share your password. Maybe you meant it as a form of trust (Here, check out my messages, I’ve got nothing to hide!) or maybe you needed your boyfriend to reply to an email for you. If the relationship hits the rocks, he’s got access to your account and can lock you out, message others on your behalf, or who knows what else. If you absolutely must share a password to an important account with a friend or loved one, set a reminder for yourself to immediately change the password once you’re back at a screen.
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Photo: Courtesy Apple.
Do: Turn On Two-Factor Authentication
While it can be inconvenient, two-factor authentication is the best and easiest way to keep your online accounts from getting hacked. What two-factor does is when you log into an account from a new or strange device, the service sends you an email or text message with a code you have to input in addition to your normal passcode.

If someone is trying to hack into your account, it acts as a way to quickly shut down the attack. Set up two-factor for EVERYTHING: Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, and Microsoft accounts. Two-factor authentication is especially important for anything relating to your finances, like Venmo. (On iOS, you can also secure the Venmo app with a passcode or TouchID, so if someone stole your handset, they’d be unable to transfer cash with the app.)
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