With today’s reliance on the Internet, a person’s privacy and personal security is more at risk than it once was. Identity theft, stolen information, and other security problems are all too real of a threat if your online privacy is not as protected as you believe it is.
Not only are banking and bills done online, all sorts of sites ask for your personal information, including your home address, phone number, email, and in some cases, your social security number. While websites vow to protect your information, online data is vulnerable to security breaches by hackers.
In order to protect yourself, your family, and your information, here are 6 ways to protect your online privacy:
One of the first steps you should take to protect your online security is to update your electronics with maximum Internet security software. Many computers, phones, and tablets are vulnerable to viruses sent out of by hackers attempting to get your information. From phishing sites to spammy emails to cloned sites, there are a myriad of ways online hackers can try to get your personal information. Protecting your devices with passwords and security software are two of the best things you can do. For more information, read here.
- Social Media
While social media has been a great tool for businesses, networking, and connections with distant family members and friends, it is also a great source for hackers, thieves, and even predators. Set your social media profiles to private, only allowing friends the ability to see your information.
Moreover, limit the amount of information you offer. Keep your address, phone number, and email off of your profile. If a friend needs it, they’ll ask for it privately. Additionally, limit how often you geo-tag your locations, as it alerts people not only where you are, but where you are not—like your home. Lastly, be smart about what pictures you upload in order to keep your reputation safe and your kids safe from predators, as your profiles could potentially endanger your children, or cost you a job.
- Social Security
Only give out your social security information if it is absolutely necessary. In fact, unless it is your bank or the IRS, a good rule of thumb to follow is to never give it out, especially on forms that are being mailed or handled by many people. If a company actually needs it for a legitimate reason, they can call and ask for it. However, in most cases, they don’t actually need it.
While many sites ask for the last 4-digits of your social, if possible, skip over that step. Even though it is only part of the number, with those 4-digits, the rest are actually quite easy to guess, especially if someone knows a lot of information about you.
- Unique Passwords
One of the worst things you can do in terms of security is to use the same username and password for everything, because if someone figures it out, all of your information is vulnerable to them. Moreover, look to create difficult passwords that do not have any special meaning. While they can be more difficult to remember, they will be much more difficult to crack. Avoid using birthdates, family names, pets, or anything else that can be easily figured out.
Many websites offer a double authentication feature, meaning that you have to go through two steps to get into your profile. In order to sign in, you not only have to use your log in information, you also have to type in the code sent to your phone via text message. As long as you have your phone with you, you can rest assured that even if someone were to figure out your username and password, they would not be able to get to your information.
- Zip Code
Avoid giving your zip code when making credit card purchases, if possible. While there are some instances when you cannot avoid it, such as when purchasing gas or something of the like, if you can skip over that step, do so. Companies can use your zip code to find out more information about you. While that company may only be doing it for marketing purposes, if their company security was hacked, all of your information is now vulnerable.
Use these 6 tips to keep your online information safe and secure.
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