Every day, the internet connects us to more people, thoughts, and ideas than ever before. But with this access come risks. Your email account is hacked; your bank account password stolen; you make an embarrassing comment on Facebook that becomes public knowledge for all of your friends to see. A few steps can go a long way in securing your online privacy and personal information. Here are five tips to help protect you from cyber-crime.
Use a Different Password for Every Account
Many people use one or two passwords across multiple websites. This makes it easy to keep track of but far too easy for hackers to steal your information. Instead of a single password, use a string of three to five random words. This means you’ll have to remember one master passphrase, but it will be almost impossible for hackers to crack.
Check Your Online Account Security & Privacy Settings
Use a site like Security Check Pro to quickly find out what information you’re sharing with the public. Try and adjust your settings so that only friends or connections can view your information.
Once you have your settings adjusted, check the privacy policies of every site you use. Companies are constantly updating their terms of service to allow easier sharing of your information. Make sure you’re comfortable with it.
Use Different Usernames & Passwords for Social Media
Always remember that if one account is compromised, it puts all of your accounts at risk. Hackers are clever & social media sites are fast-paced, so it’s always a good idea to protect yourself with unique usernames & passwords.
Don’t Click on Suspicious Links
Never, under any circumstances, click a link from someone you don’t know. Hackers will send fake email messages claiming to be from major websites, like eBay or your bank. They’ll link you to a website that looks like your bank’s or PayPal’s but is actually run by the hacker. Once you enter your
log-in information on their fake website, you’ve given them the keys to your entire online life.
Use Two Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security for your most important accounts, like email and banking. It works by providing a code that changes every 30 seconds via text message when you log in. This helps protect against phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks, like someone eavesdropping on your network to intercept passwords.
Use Password Managers
Password managers like 1password, Dashlane, and Last Pass make it easy to use unique, complicated passwords for every website and service. They store all of these in a digital “vault” and can autofill forms for you. This makes it easy to keep track of all your passwords without needing to memorize them.
Another way to protect your privacy is by using a private browsing mode. This stops your browser from saving any browsing history, cookies, or cached pages. When you’re done, make sure to delete your browsing history, so it doesn’t leave a trail for someone else to find.
Use Secure Messaging
An increasing number of messaging services offer encryption for messages. WhatsApp, Viber, and even Facebook Messenger now have this feature. Make sure you look for the “lock” symbol in the upper right-hand corner of your chat window. If it’s turned on, your messages are encrypted.
If you want to go the extra mile, several apps will block your location from being tracked. These include Disconnect or Privacy Pro for your phone and “Frequent Locations” for your Mac.
Essential Tools You Can Use to Improve your Online privacy
Ghostery blocks companies from tracking your web browsing with trackers and cookies.
Disconnect stops companies from tracking which websites you visit.
- Privacy Badger
Privacy Badger is an add-on that stops advertisers and shady companies from tracking you online.
- Spokeo Protect
Spokeo Protect is a browser add-on that blocks third-party trackers and content. It also encrypts your data, making it unreadable to advertisers, ISPs, and hackers. Or if you were scammed online you can also turn to Spokeo lookup tool and find a scammer.
- HTTPS Everywhere
HTTPS Everywhere is an add-on that forces websites to use the secure HTTPS version of their site when available.
Online privacy means avoiding logging onto websites that could expose sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, phone numbers, and more. It also includes hiding your location and restricting how much of your online behavior is tracked.