How to Protect Yourself Online

Everyone is concerned about their privacy—especially online. When it comes to the world of social media and the internet, it seems that in spite of their own awareness, people still let down their guard when it comes to privacy invasion online… Perhaps many people think it won’t happen to them—or maybe they simply don’t know how to protect themselves.

That’s why I’ve created this post, compiling some simple tips that can help you keep yourself protected online.

1. Use unique passwords on all your accounts

This may sound obvious, but it’s something many people don’t do. It’s all too easy to create one or two passwords and use them for everything—at least you won’t forget them, right? But fortunately, this simple tip is one of the easiest ways to keep your accounts secure. Don’t want to have to remember all of your passwords to many accounts in your head? Write them down in a password book and keep it in a safe place or try an app like LastPass or 1password that will store your passwords for you. It will even generate random, secure passwords. Random passwords—passwords that have no ties to you like your name, birthday, pet or child’s name, etc.—will be much harder for some to crack and will keep your online information safer.

2. Always opt for two-step verification

If someone does happen to get ahold of your password, having two-step verification in place requires an additional action in order to access that account. That way, if someone other than you is trying to log in to your account, you will be notified and will have the opportunity to change your password and protect your information.

3. Set your phone and computer to automatically lock if your password is typed incorrectly too many times

Think about everything you do on your phone—and then everything you do on your computer. If hacked, not only would someone have access to all of your messages, but they would also likely have access to all your emails, social media, bank accounts, online stores… the list goes on! Keeping your phone and computer protected is vital to keeping your private information safe.

4. Keep your devices up to date

Be sure to download the latest version of your operating system, browser, and apps to keep your devices up to date on the latest safety measures. When typing your information into a website on your browser, make sure to look for the ‘s’ in https. This ‘s’ indicates that the site is secure.

5. Configure your app settings

Does Facebook need to access your microphone? Does Snapchat need to access your location? Do these apps really need access to your camera? Removing some of these permissions for certain apps will help keep your private information safer. It’s also a good idea to uninstall apps you are no longer using. If you’ve stopped using a service, it’s always a good idea to reach out to the company to have your account deleted to ensure your information is no longer being collected or your actions tracked.

6. Keep your credit card information offline

Online shopping makes it difficult to say no when offering to keep your card information saved. While not having to type your card information into an online checkout everytime you buy something definitely makes things more convenient, is that convenience worth the potential risk?

7. Set your privacy settings on social media to keep unwanted eyes out of your social life

Although everyone has probably heard this a thousand times, this is not something that should be dismissed. Social sites are constantly changing their privacy settings to capture more of your information. Make sure to check these settings frequently to ensure that your account is protected to the level you want.

Another quote you’ve heard a million times: “Be careful what you post on social media.” Despite your privacy settings (or lack-thereof,) keeping sensitive personal details to a minimum online is a smart choice to avoid unwanted eyes seeing your information. Would you want a stranger knowing your phone number or address? Probably not. So avoid sharing these details in public places.

8. Make sure you know the sender’s email before you open it

It isn’t uncommon to receive malicious emails from a sender who is hoping to capture personal data. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, always make sure that you recognize the email address and verify that any links or attachments in the email make sense. Most importantly, do not click on any links or attachments if they do not feel legitimate or safe. If you feel like something is a little off, don’t risk it! Make a call or get online and find out about the sender.

If there are links in the email, type it in yourself rather than clicking the link. Malicious links can be hidden in these seemingly normal URLs. If you think it is suspicious don’t click it.

While some of these tips may sound like common sense, so many of us—myself included—don’t always take the necessary precautions to keep our online information safe. I’ve mentioned 8 great tips for keeping your information from falling into the wrong hands, but I’d love to hear how you keep your online profile private. What other tips might be useful to preserve our “social security?”

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