Our lives are moving more and more online, from shopping and entertainment to banking and applying for employment. Whether you’re filling out forms, making purchases, or browsing the web, it’s important to keep your information safe online. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself from data-security threats.
Watch what you share on social media.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter can be a great way to stay in touch with your friends and family, but they also have lots of information you don’t want others to have. If you share your birthday, don’t include the year. Don’t post your mailing address if exchanging information. When posting photos, make sure there is no sensitive information that could be revealed if someone zooms in. It may seem like only your friends can see what you post online, but that’s not always true—and even if they can’t now, they might in the future (if they get hacked). Make sure to check your privacy settings regularly to limit who can see what you’re posting.
Don’t ignore alerts.
If you receive a notice saying that your password is compromised—change it! A lot of sites send out alerts when they think they’ve been hacked, so don’t ignore these messages. Some of the easiest ways to keep your information safe online are also the most obvious!
Make sure all of your software is up-to-date. Hackers often use security flaws in software to gain access to sensitive data, so the best way to avoid this is by ensuring that all of your applications are updated regularly. This means online and in your phone.
Use different, complex passwords.
You should use a different password for different accounts—that way, if one account gets hacked, you can more easily limit the potential damage by changing only one password instead of many. A strong password is one that uses a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols (for example, ‘H@ppyNewYear’). It should also be unique – not the same as any other password you use.
If you use a password manager, make sure to choose one that doesn’t store your passwords in the cloud. LastPass is a manager that gets good reviews because they encrypt your data before it ever leaves your computer. If you have automatic log-ins enabled on your browser and somebody steals your phone, they’ll be able to access all of your accounts without needing a password. Make sure those log-ins are turned off.
Be smart about email attachments.
Only open attachments from trusted sources and be careful about. If someone sends you an email with a link attached, make sure that it really is from them before clicking on it. Some links are disguised as being from people you know, but actually lead to malware or phishing sites that will steal your data and personal information.
The most important thing to remember is that technology is constantly evolving, and a “set it and forget it” policy isn’t enough. You have to stay vigilant and While these basic tips won’t guarantee complete online privacy, they’ll certainly put you on the road to securing your digital life.
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