Let’s face it: the internet can be a scary place. With so many scammers, spammers, hackers and more all clambering to steal your data and profit off it, it’s no wonder why so many people are worried about cybersecurity and online privacy. Plus, after huge companies like Yahoo, Facebook, and even Equifax have been hacked, it can seem like no one is safe.
If you’re worried about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from privacy violations online, start with these tips!
Choose Your Passwords Carefully
Passwords are everywhere – they’re the keys to our entire lives online. We use passwords for banks, email, social media accounts, subscription services, streaming, news platforms, shopping, and tons more. Think about how much sensitive information about you is hidden behind those passwords! The first thing you should do to protect yourself online is to start using smart passwords.
If your password is your pet’s name and followed by your birth year, or perhaps your mom’s maiden name, you’re on the wrong path. Safe passwords contain a diverse variety of letters and numbers as well as symbols. It should also be something that someone couldn’t easily guess by scrolling through your social media profiles.
Manage Your Email Carefully
Your email is oftentimes the hub of your online life, with bank accounts, social media accounts, and plenty more hooked up to it. Don’t let scammers and hackers infiltrate your email – be smart about your password, don’t leave yourself signed in anywhere, and always change your password every few months.
If you’re emailing especially sensitive information, you should send out encrypted emails. This protects you and the recipient from unwanted eyes peering into your important email business!
Promote Safer Data Practices
Large companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and others are often far too cavalier about protecting our data. While it’s nearly impossible to distance yourself completely from these tech behemoths, one thing you can do to help everyone online keep their data safe is to promote practices and companies that keep data safe.
There are now email services that protect user data, as well as search engines that don’t abuse what their users input in the search bar, and browsers that promote net neutrality. There’s strength in numbers: if everyone demands data security, it will become a priority.
Be a Selective Clicker
There are tons of sites out there that try to trick internet users into inputting sensitive information in hopes of stealing from them. One example is called phishing. Some sites will appear to be the site you’d meant to go on – say, your university’s student portal, or your online bank, or even your social media account. However, you should double-check that the domain is correct.
Phishing sites replicate legitimate sites and use similar copycat URLs to fool users. If this is something you’re worried about, bookmark the legitimate site so that you know you’re always returning to the right place.
Never Leave Devices Unattended
Many people, for convenience, leave themselves signed in on many online accounts. While this is not an overly risky thing to do on your personal device if you have the device itself protected with a passcode or password, you should never save passwords on public computers or work computers. In addition to this, never leave your own devices unlocked or unattended.
Think about it: is that person at the café who you asked to watch your laptop while you run to the bathroom really going to fight off someone who snatches your laptop and runs out the front door with it? We wouldn’t trust it. Keep your devices in your line of sight at all times while in public, and don’t ever leave your devices unlocked if you’ve stepped away from them for a moment.
Cybersecurity is often just as important as physical security. Think about it, you wouldn’t leave your car or house unlocked and walk away. Don’t do this with your computer either! Our lives are so dependent on the personas we’ve built up online, it’s imperative that you protect that persona as well as you protect yourself and your physical assets.
Don’t be a victim of hacking, spamming, or phishing; protect yourself online with these tips today!