We now spend all day on our PCs, smartphones and tablets. A few years ago this was unimaginable, but it is now part of our everyday lives. But to what extent does being connected affect our safety? How do your online habits affect the protection of your personal data or finances? Do they make them more vulnerable?

Report on online safety habits

To shed some light on the topic, Kaspersky recently launched a report on online safety habits. The report shows some interesting data, for example 36% of users don’t think they are a target for cybercriminals, 76% of users can’t tell the difference between a real website and one which has been fabricated by fraudsters, and that 19% of use would deactivate safety options on our device in order to install a program.

These data, which worry experts, are directly related to our capacity to make adequate decisions. This capacity depends, among other things, on our perception of online threats, as well as the importance we place on personal data, or the amount of information we have stored in the cloud. Studies show that we are becoming more and more concerned about our online safety, but funnily enough this does not translate into us taking more care with our online habits.

In Spain for example, the number of people who enter personal data on unsecure websites has increased in the past year from 27.8% to 28.3%. This might be due to the fact that, as mentioned above, around 36% of us don’t consider ourselves a target for cyber-attacks, which is 7% more than 2014.

Cyber savvy quiz

Kaspersky has created an online safety test which you can complete in order to find out where you’re going wrong and how to improve your online behaviour. The test has already been completed by 18,000 people from around the world, and contains questions on typical situations encountered on the internet. These situations relate to downloading files, publishing information on social networks, and using online banking. Each question contains a series of possible answers, each with a different level of security. The answers are then used to calculate how cyber savvy you are.

A question on phishing... Which of the 4 options is an authentic site? Do the test to find out...

A question on phishing… Which of the 4 options is an authentic site? Do the test to find out…

The average score of all the participants (from 16 countries) is 95/150, meaning that the safest option was chosen only about half of the time.

Studies like this show us that 10% of use open attachments without checking their origin, or that more than half of us can’t tell the difference between a real and a phished website.

I thoroughly recommend that you complete the test, which will give you a series of very useful tips to keep your data safe. Click here to access the test.

In order to get the most out of the test, don’t try and guess the safest option, but choose what you would actually do in each situation.

Cyber savvy map

Cyber savvy map

Conclusions and good online safety habits

For those who prefer not to complete the test, I have put together a summary of good habits to make your online presence safer.

  • Only trust known websites, and avoid websites whose name seems to have changed unexpectedly. Phishing attacks aim to confuse you by creating websites which look just like the original ones but with a slightly different URL.
  • Be careful when downloading email attachments, especially if you don’t know the sender. Also take care with .EXE and .SCR files.
  • When downloading files online, think carefully about the information you provide. You will often be asked for personal data like your phone number in order to download files at high speed.
  • Ensure your passwords contain a mixture of numbers, letters and special characters, and make sure they are not too short. This will make them harder to guess. You should also use various passwords, which reduces the damage if one password is compromised. Also, never write your passwords down.
  • It’s a good idea to use more than one email address. Use a throwaway email address for online purchases and other occasional uses.
  • Using the option to save your credentials in the browser can cause problems, as there is malware designed to specifically look for this information.
  • The safest way of storing your photos and documents is to encrypt them and upload them to the cloud. Encrypting them means nobody will be able to access their content. Storing your data in the cloud is safer than storing it on a hard disk, as this could be corrupted.
  • Whenever possible, favour websites which begin with “https” rather than “http”.
  • Get used to deleting your browsing data from time to time (or even deactivating it completely), to prevent cyber criminals from finding out which pages you visit.
  • When sending confidential messages, always do so from your own device, rather than someone else’s.
  • When you install new applications, pay attention to what you’re accepting, rather than blindly clicking “Next”. In the case of mobile devices, always review the permissions required by the application, and uninstall the app when no longer needed.
  • Take care with what you publish on social networks. These platforms are often used by cyber criminals, so make sure you adjust your privacy settings so that only your contacts can see what you post.

I hope you have found this article useful. If you do the test, don’t forget to leave your score in the comments.

Carlos Ávila is an information systems administrator with 10 years of experience in the field. Passionate about science and technology, he maintains his own blog which he uses to share his knowledge about the subject. He also collaborates with BQ, writing articles related to smartphones, tablets, networks and technology.