7 Ways to Help Protect Your Personal Information Online
Is your personal information protected online?
The internet has become a vital tool for how we conduct our daily lives. But, no matter how, when, or why you use the internet, you need to learn how to protect your personal information.
Read on for these seven ways to protect yourself and browse the internet in safety. You might want to consider installing ad blockers for more safe and comfortable browsing.
It's unrealistic to expect people to keep their passwords in order based on only their memory. This doesn't mean you should keep using the same password for everything though!
Create separate passwords for each of your accounts online. Have them include up to five words that wouldn't usually appear together. For extra security, mix in capital letters with lowercase, numbers, and special characters.
Another tip is to set up multi-factor authentication. Most banks and email providers will let you turn this on in your settings options for their sites. Some ask you to scan a QR code, others will do it via codes emailed or texted to you. There are lots of options out there.
1. Make Strong Passwords
2. Have Strict Privacy Settings
Check your privacy settings for each online account regularly. This should include any information you're sharing in the public domain. For social media, it's safest to only let your friends see posts, comments, and profile info.
Keep your settings up to date and abreast of these changes. It'll help you avoid sharing your information with unwanted parties. Some websites or apps want to sell your data or browsing history. This means once they get it you don't have any control of where that data goes.
It's also best practice to avoid logging into other sites using your social media details. Some third-party sites might say "Sign up with Google" and it might seem convenient. It might save you time, but it's not a good idea.
This only serves to condense the number of passwords you have. If you're only using a few passwords for everything, one breach could affect many accounts. This could leave you exposed and vulnerable all across the internet.
You know the obvious about not posting pictures of your address, credit card, ID, or any personal info. It's a huge no-no as you'll be in a world of pain if it gets into the wrong hands.
There are other sensitive pieces of information you may give out without knowing. For example, if you've got location services enabled and you post where you are. Thieves could gather this data to work out where you live and that you're away. It'll single out your home for a burglary.
Check your device and app settings to make sure you're not sharing your location anywhere. Cover any app, not only the ones used for social media. This prevents anyone who might steal or hack your device from getting anything. You don't want them to know your daily pattern or behavior as it could have an impact on your actual safety.
On social media, only accept friend requests from people you know. This goes for professional sites like LinkedIn too. The more strangers on your list, the less in control you are of where your posts and photos end up.
3. Avoid Social Media Oversharing
4. Avoid Phishing
Phishing is a way that fraudsters trick you into sharing your personal information. They look for things like:
- social security number
- financial information
You may get an email posing to be a reputable company, asking you to reset your password. It'll have a link they'll ask you to use or give you a download to update your software.
When you click the link and share your details, they have technology noting those details. Or the link could down malicious software or malware to your device.
This sort of software opens your device and all the information stored in it to a hacker. Usually, the inevitable end goal is identity theft of stealing your funds.
It can come via email, a phone call, or even a text message. A reputable company will NEVER ask for your log in details. Make sure you're only communicating with legitimate representatives of known organizations.
There are a lot of services that will ask for your SSN. These range from doctor's offices to car rentals. They want it because it lets them tie you with your data and other sources with ease.
There are no legal requirements for you to give it out thought to anyone but the federal government. By refusing to give it out, you'll keep your important data safer.
5. Never Give Out Your Social Security Number (SSN)
6. Clear Your Cache
When you browse the internet, the sites you visit save information about you in your browser to make it faster for you next time you visit. You have probably noticed this when you return to a webshop and your basket is still full. But while this is convenient, it can also leave you vulnerable.
Websites will often save personal information in the cache, which could potentially be accessed by hackers. But it isn't just hackers that this exposes you to. If you use a shared computer, all your data could be accessed, deliberately or accidentally, by the next person who uses it.
Thankfully, clearing your cache isn't hard. You can find browser add-ons that automatically clear it, and if you use a Mac, you can use this handy guide on how to clear cache on mac.
One of the easiest ways to you can protect your information online is to do a yearly audit of all the sites you have used in the last year.
This is very easy if you use a password manager as it will record all your logins. If you don't use one, don't worry. You should still have all your signup emails in your mail.
Check all of the accounts, deleting those that you do not intend to use again, and changing your passwords on those that you do. This will reduce the chance of any data breaches getting your data, or up to date passwords. Make sure you don't get lazy and duplicate or reuse passwords, as this will undo all your work.
Don't Delay, Protect Your Personal Information Today
The internet is an amazing resource and has changed so many lives for the better. But if you don't protect your personal information you could end up leaving a trail that could lead to account breaches or even identity theft.
If you found this article useful, be sure to check out our other posts.