Sep 21, 2016 06:02 AM EDT

Are You Being 'Too Open' Online?; Here are 7 Ways to Check your Online Security

By Kay Soliven
Many internet users may be "too open" online, posing risk to their online security
Many internet users may be "too open" online, posing risk to their online security
(Photo : Getty Images/ Sean Gallup)

While being "too open" online sounds normal for most internet users, sharing too much information attracts cybercriminals who feed on people's reckless online behavior. Lack of protection on users' device's data, not installing protection software, and careless internet log-ins are only some practices which can make users vulnerable to leak of personal information. In worst cases, users' personal  information may be compromised and their identity may be stolen. 

Mashable reported a few things to take note so you're assured of your online security. 

1. Connecting to public Wifi.

Free public wi-fi hotspots can be found everywhere, but access comes with a price. Since Wi-fi uses radio waves, online thieves with hacking software can get access to take users information without them knowing. 

What You Should Do: 
Start limiting usage of public wifi. If possible, avoid logging in to websites where you are asked to provide your username and password (online banking, financial websites, online shopping, social media, etc) If this is unavoidable, make sure that you are connected to a secure and stable hotspot network and that no one can see what you type. 

2. Sharing information via email
Email remains on top of the most popularly used mode of communication. Simply signing in to your device poses risks, especially if someone unauthorized gets access to it. Sharing information online also goes through lots of networks and servers, and once you send an information, there's no taking it back. 

What You Should Do: 
Make sure that you are sending information to someone you trust. Double check the e-mail address and secure an online protection for your email services.  

3. Posting eveything on social media
We're given the liberty to share our lives on social media but some cybercriminals may take advantage of what you post. Sensitive information (checking in, posting pictures of your ID and card number in plain sight) might put you or your digital identity in danger. 

What You Should Do: 
Everytime you post online, make sure that what you're sharing is something you're willing to share to the world. Sure there are privacy agreements, but once you post anything online, it becomes public property. Double check your privacy settings. 

4. Answering online forms
Most of the time, you may be asked to fill out personal information in an online form (sign-up for an event, confirmation, etc). While most of these are legitimate, there are still some that are not. Be extra careful and make sure that the form you're filling out comes from a trustworthy website. Sometimes, your personal information can be sold to email advertisers and you're most likely to get unwanted e-mails. 

What You Should Do:
Check  the sites you're visiting. Make sure you know what they're going to do with the information you provide. Most legitimate sites will have disclaimers and privacy policies, which explains how they will use your personal information. 

5. Using weak  passwords
Some users tend to use the same password for every website, but this practice is very unhealthy for your online security. Hackers may simply guess simple passwords, and use them to access your profile across different websites.

What You Should Do:
Make a smart password.This may be done by incorporating capital letters, numbers, and special characters, and using more than six characters. Also, don't forget to  change your passwords every once in a while. Some websites have pioneered double-verfication for log-ins and internet users are highly suggested to avail this when possible. 

6. Agreeing to terms and policies without understanding them
When installing or visiting a website for the first time, make sure you read the privacy policy. Skipping this practice is unsafe for your online securitymake sure you understand what you're jumping into.   

What You Should Do:
If you don't have enough time to read to read the policy, try to skim through it. LifeHacker suggests users take note of the following: third parties and affiliates, opt-out, arbitration, waive or waiver, and everything written in ALL CAPS because they're most likely very important. 

7. Surf wisely
It is common to see click-bait headlines which may lead you to websites that you're unfamiliar with. Sometimes, clicking on these links generates a spam machine to your email address. 

What You Should do: 
Forbes  suggests a rule of thumb: "If a "friend" sends a link with no personal note, you can be sure it's bogus." Delete suspicious emails and do not click shady pop-ups. 

Sharing information online is easy but always be wary for what you're sending out to the world. Being secured online may require a lot of effort, but keep in mind that someone out there will feed on data of vulnerable online users.  

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