Online privacy is a big deal these days. It’s just as important for you to protect your personal information online as it is for companies to keep their users’ data secure.
If you’re anything like most people, you probably spend a lot of time online. And that means that your personal information is potentially at risk for being hacked and stolen.
There are a few simple things you can do to protect your privacy online:
Create strong passwords:
One of the most important things you can do is create strong passwords: ones that are at least 12 characters long and include both upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using obvious or simple words like “password” or “123456.”
Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of protection that requires you to enter a code from a smartphone app when logging in from an unrecognized device. This will help keep hackers from accessing your accounts even if they are able to steal your password.
Don’t overshare on social media:
Many people don’t realize that their personal information is just one click away from going viral.
Don’t give out personal information in a public setting. This can include your birthday, home address, full name and/or other identifying details.
Be careful about posting pictures of your children online—people may use these pictures to find them later on in life if they decide they want to hurt or steal from you.
Be wary of “friend requests” from people who don’t know you personally; it could be someone trying to collect information about you for illegal purposes like identity theft or other types of fraud.
Pay attention when using social media apps like Facebook Messenger or Snapchat: these apps are not secure! Your messages may be intercepted by criminals who want access to your personal information (such as passwords).
Use free Wi-Fi with caution:
Free Wi-Fi can be tempting, but sometimes it comes with a cost! Before clicking on any links or attachments sent via text message or email while using public Wi-Fi, check with the source to make sure it’s legitimate. If something looks suspicious or unfamiliar, don’t click on it–even if it seems harmless!
Use a VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) allows you to browse the web anonymously by routing traffic through an encrypted connection that masks your IP address and location from third parties like Internet Service Providers (ISPs), employers, schools, advertisers and government agencies who may be monitoring your activities online.
Watch out for links and attachments in emails from unknown senders:
These days it’s easy for hackers to create convincing emails that look like they’re from someone you know or even from a company you trust, but actually contain malicious software designed to steal data from your computer or phone!
Hackers can be very convincing in their emails. They want to trick you into clicking on links or opening attachments that will infect your computer or phone with malware, so it’s important to be cautious about emails from unknown senders.
Check the email’s “from” field—if it doesn’t match the name of the sender, it might be a scammer!
Look at the email’s full header—this includes information like where the email originated and what server it was sent through. If it looks suspicious (like if there’s no header), delete it immediately!
Check to see if the site is secure:
In order to protect your privacy online, it’s important to check if the site you’re visiting is secure. You can tell if a site is secure by looking at its web address (https:// instead of http://).
The ‘s’ stands for “secure,” and means that the site has encrypted data. This helps keep your information safe from prying eyes.
The best way to check if a website is secure is by looking at its web address (the part of the URL that comes after “http://”). If it ends in “.com” or “.org,” then the site is probably safe. If it ends in “.edu” or “.gov,” then it’s probably official government business and therefore safe.
Protecting your digital life is easier than ever. The most important thing to remember: don’t panic! Instead, arm yourself with information before it’s too late—and then take the steps necessary to keep yourself and your family safe.
Keep your devices updated with the latest security patches. You should also install anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and a firewall.
There are likely countless other ways you can further improve your online security, but this is a start that could help keep cyberattacks at bay and prevent a breach of private data.