From investing and working to banking and shopping, if you are like most people, a lot of your life is conducted online. While you may be taking advantage of all these online conveniences, you may not be fully aware of how to protect your private or sensitive information.
If your personal data is stolen, it can be a devastating experience. It may take you years to fix all the damage that occurs.
While this is true, you can use some best practices to help protect personal information online. Keep reading for some tips to help you with this goal.
- Use Strong Passwords
If you need to create a password, you should think beyond the numbers or words that someone could easily guess, such as your street address or birthday. Select a combination of upper and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers.
Be sure to change your password regularly, too. Use a different password for each site, rather than repeating the same one again and again. If necessary, you can use a password management tool to keep track of everything.
- Avoid Clicking Attachments and Links
Cybercriminals are masters at what they do. They are skilled at tricking people into clicking a link that looks like it is from a legitimate service provider.
Be sure to think before you click anything. If there are spelling errors, email addresses that seem to work, or sudden communication from people, use caution. It is always better to manually enter the organization’s URL to verify the communications before clicking anything.
- Limit Sharing on Social Media
If you share too much on social media, it may put your personal or sensitive information in the wrong hands. Keep in mind that social media is now used by lawyers during a trial and even in other situations. You can find more information about this here.
If these people can learn about you on social media, so can cybercriminals.
Pay close attention to the posts and pictures you share. Check the privacy settings on your accounts too. Try to limit the total number of people who can actually see what you share.
If you aren’t sure how to change your privacy settings or optimize them, there are some tips online. If your kids use social media, be sure to check their privacy settings, too.
- Conduct an Annual Checkup
This is a simple but often overlooked hack. You should audit the sites you use annually.
If you use password managers, you can export all the sites you have saved. Go through this list and be sure the passwords are secure. You should consider two-factor authentication if it is offered.
For accounts you no longer use, you should close them.
- Use Free Wi-Fi Carefully
While it may seem like no big deal to do a bit of shopping on free Wi-Fi, this isn’t a very good idea. Most of the free public Wi-Fi networks have limited security measures in place.
This means anyone else who is using the network may gain access to your activity. You need to wait until you have a secure connection and password-protected network before entering your credit card information.
- Back Up Your Data
If your computer has become infected by malware or ransomware or if it crashes, the only way you can retrieve this information is by having a backup. Doing this regularly is a must.
If your computer crashes or if you delete something accidentally, you can still recover it.
- Check Credit and Bank Protection Policies
With online activity, there’s no data privacy. If you conduct business online, be sure your credit and bank accounts have policies in place to protect you just in case of fraud.
You don’t want to self-insure if you have an account hacked and misused. Also, make sure that you don’t set up websites or your browser to remember your payment or login information. This is asking for issues.
- Check for Secure Sites
Before you put any personal information on a website, look at the top of the browser. Is there a lock symbol and a URL that starts with “HTTPS?” If so, it means you have landed on a secure site.
- Update Your Computer Regularly
When you keep your software updated, all potential vulnerabilities can be patched. This means that hackers and cybercriminals will not be able to use these “doors” to get into your system and steal your information.
- Read the Fine Print
As a consumer, it is important to recognize that protecting your personal data is not only your responsibility. It is also the responsibility of the brands you make purchases from.
However, you should still read and ask questions about the privacy policies included on apps and websites. Be sure you fully understand how your information may be used.
Now You Know How to Protect Personal Information
With the information above, you should be ready to protect your personal information online. Following the tips and steps here will help you avoid being the victim of a cyberattack.
While there is no way to be 100% secure, the information above will give you the best chance to avoid becoming a victim.
Are you searching for more tech-related tips? If so, make sure to read our other blogs. Our team is dedicated to covering everything in the tech world and helping you stay informed and aware of what’s going on.