In our highly digital age, it’s tough to go even a few days without hearing about someone’s data being compromised, identity being stolen, or personal information leaked online. In the first half of 2019 alone, researchers believe over 4 billion records were exposed in data breaches. If you’re nervous about your personal information being stolen online, here are a few safety tips to help you protect it.
Use Strong Passwords
One of the most important and simplest things you can do to protect your personal information online is to use strong passwords on all sites that require you to log in. In most cases, a website will be able to tell you whether your password is strong enough or not. To be safe, you should make sure your passwords have a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. No, that does not mean “PassWord2020!” is a strong password. If you’re really struggling to come up with a strong password, some sites may suggest a randomized password for you. Considering that almost one-third of all data is predicted to pass through the cloud, the stronger your password is, the better. In addition, make sure you keep your password private! That means electing not to save it on your browser. Instead, store it in a secure folder on your computer or even in a handwritten format.
Keep it Short on Social Media
While many people treat social media as their personal diary, the truth is that personal details about your life don’t always belong on the internet. For instance, if you’re going on vacation and won’t be home for two weeks, maybe don’t spread that information across all of your public social media channels. Maybe someone with bad intentions will see your post and take it as an invitation to break into your home. In addition, personal medical information, pictures of your address, and other intimate details of your life might seem okay to share on social media, but the truth is that sharing that information could lead to your data being compromised. It’s a good idea to check your privacy settings every once in a while to make sure you have a good idea of who’s looking at your posts. But even then, remember that a private account doesn’t always guarantee privacy from people who want your information.
Consider Additional Protection on Your Computer
Before you even open a browser window on your computer, it’s a good idea to check on your security settings. Do you have your firewall turned on? Is there anti-virus software installed on your computer? If you answered no to either of those questions, you have a serious problem. Without those protections, it’s possible for your computer to contract a virus from opening a link or even an email on your web browser. Hackers can use this to mine data from your computer, including passwords, personal financial information, and more. Almost 68% of funds lost as a result of cyber-attacks are unrecoverable, so it’s much better here to be safe than sorry. If you’re unsure what kind of virus protection your computer has or what kind will be most effective for your machine, make sure you contact the retailer where you purchased your computer or the manufacturer.
When it comes to protecting your information online, a few simple steps are really all it takes to keep yourself safe. Make sure you’re implementing these processes to keep your personal data out of harm’s way.