We all have bad habits. But while biting your nails or snapping your gum can be annoying or unsightly, chances are they aren’t going to cause serious problems in the long run.
Other habits do have the potential to cause serious — and costly — problems. Your bad tech habits when using and caring for your mobile phone, tablet and computer can not only cause the machines to break down and no longer function, but can also leave you vulnerable to having your data and personal information lost or stolen. One simple mistake, like leaving your unlocked smartphone in the backseat of a taxi cab, can cause you to lose time, money and precious data.
For that reason, examine your personal tech habits, and make changes to protect your devices and your data. Start by “deleting”five of the following worst behaviors.
Using the Same Passwords for Everything
One of the most common causes for data breaches and online theft is weak passwords. You may think you’re being clever using “abc123” or “password” to protect your accounts, but think again. And using that same password for your accounts only compounds the problem. All it takes is an industrious hacker to figure out your credentials, and you’re left to pick up the pieces of your shattered identity.
You’re probably rolling your eyes and saying “But I have one really good password. And besides, it’s a pain to remember all the different codes!” But consider whether it would be more of a pain to rebuild your life after a thief steals your identity. Use a password-generating program to create and store unique, strong passwords, or develop a system for creating your own difficult codes. For example, use a standard “base” for each password that is a random combination of letters and numbers. Then, add a unique identifier for each site.
Never Updating or Rebooting Your Computer
When you’re done working for a while, do you put your laptop to sleep? Or do you just close the lid and go about your day? If it’s the latter, you could be reducing your computer’s lifespan. Putting your computer to sleep before you close the lid halts all of the processes and keeps the machine from overheating. If you’ll be away for a while, turn the machine off entirely.
If you turn off the computer and reboot regularly, your system will automatically update, but if you’re prompted to reboot, don’t keep hitting “ignore” to delay the process. It may be inconvenient to close your programs and wait for the reboot, but installing important updates ensures your operating system, Antivirus Software and other programs are all working, and you’re safe from malware and other problems.
Not Paying Attention When Installing New Software
You download a cool new program and absently click “next” every time you’re prompted as it installs. Next thing you know, your computer is flooded with task bars, software trials and other things you don’t want or need. In some cases, you may even inadvertently install malware or adware.
The solution? Pay attention when installing and refuse any add-ons you don’t need or want. Even if the program or feature is harmless, it’s taking up valuable space on your machine and should be eliminated.
Using Unencrypted Flash Drives
Flash drives are undoubtedly convenient, but if your drive is lost or stolen, the data it contains is vulnerable to prying eyes. Use an easily installed utility or program to encrypt data saved on external drives; the data can then only be accessed using a password or encryption key, protecting it againstunauthorized access.
Not Locking Your Devices
You wouldn’t leave the house without locking the door, so why would you leave your mobile device or computer unlocked? If your device is locked via secure password or other security measure, if it happens to fall into the wrong hands, your data will remain safe, buying you time to remotely disable the device, change passwords and take other precautions.
Avoiding these bad tech behaviors protects both your devices and your valuable data. And unlike stopping your nail-biting or gum-snapping habits, these fixes are relatively easy and painless.