Can you imagine life before the Internet? For many of us, it’s difficult. And while being online is of paramount necessity to our daily lives, lack of privacy is a serious concern and privacy itself, may be becoming obsolete. The internet can be a scary place, full of viruses and hackers, but it is also so easy, so informative, and so much fun—who can give it up?
Unfortunately, anytime you go online, you’re making yourself vulnerable. Your personal information is valuable, both to businesses and to high-tech thieves—keep it safe by following a few simple steps.
- Strong Passwords—Create difficult passwords for hackers to obtain, do so by using a variety of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. As a rule, a good password is always more than six characters.
- Email Safety—Email is the only mail for many people. While it’s a great way to stay in touch with family and friends and to communicate with prospective employers or employees, never email important information about yourself, like your credit-card information or Social Security number.
- Social Security Number Safety—Even the last four digits of your SS# should be shared online only when absolutely necessary. Unless it’s your bank or credit bureau, think twice before plugging it in. Your SS# contains your birth date and address and it’s all a hacker needs to open accounts under your name.
- Lock Your Computer & Mobile Devices—Require a password to restart or open your laptop or smart phone, that way, if they’re lost or stolen, the data stored on them won’t be accessible.
- Use A Locator App—Install an app that will locate your phone or tablet if it’s lost or stolen.
- Shop Wisely—When online shopping, make sure that the company’s website uses secure technology and verify that the web address is legitimate, beginning with https is a good rule of thumb. Generally, a small locked padlock symbol appears at the bottom right of the checkout screen if the site is secure, or there is a page announcing that you’re using a secure site.
- Use Private Browsing—If you want to hide what sites you visit, always use the “private browsing” setting on your computer or smart phone. When you enable this setting, it deletes cookies and your browsing history after you close the window. Companies that advertise online collect information based on where you hang out on the web and are then able to target and entice you with products and offers, by serving your targeted ads.
- Don’t Share Your Information with Social Media Sites—Social Media sites ask for tons of personal information; your birth date, where you live, your phone number and so on. You don’t have to share everything with them, just because they ask. You can still be on Facebook without telling them all about yourself, even though they’re persistent. They use this information for advertising and to track your online habits.
- Use Anti-Malware Apps and Software—Make sure your computers and devices have these protective apps or software, they work in protecting your data from hackers, and always keep them updated for maximum benefits.
- Use a Password Manager—It’s so hard to remember a million different passwords, but using the same one for everything is a big no-no. The problem with using the same one is that if someone gets their hands on it, they can access all your accounts. A password manager will remember all your passwords for you and will generate a strong and unique one that will be automatically filled in to login fields with the click of a button.
The Internet is an amazing and incredible place for business, pleasure, commerce and socialization. Don’t sacrifice your privacy to enjoy it!