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Keep Your Online Data Safe

Posted On: January 28th, 2019

You hear a lot about data privacy in the news these days. But have you heard of Data Privacy Day? It was created in 2007 with the purpose of raising awareness and promoting good practices when it comes to securing your personal data. The world today is more connected than ever, and thereby more vulnerable, especially with the wide variety of popular social media sites. Technology and the internet have made our lives easier but allow criminals to get access to our data. Think about it. On your Facebook account, just how much personal information is out there? Most people don’t realize just how much they reveal on social media, and to the extent they expose themselves. Educating yourself in ways to keep your information secure is important.

1.       Make sure you can spot a fake:  Be able to spot what is real and what isn’t. If a link or email looks suspicious, don’t click on it. Many scammers try to steal data using phony emails while pretending to be legitimate companies. Recently, Netflix had a big problem with this. (Read the story here.) The fake emails tend to have misspellings and encourage you to input personal information to avoid paying a fee, losing services, etc. Never give your personal information out via email. If you are concerned about an email, contact the company directly. Most companies have a place where you can report the phony email as well. 

2.       Use caution on your social media accounts: Social media can be a great tool to reconnect with old acquaintances or keep up on the lives of your family members, but it can also be a great place for fraud to occur. Take Facebook for example. People create fake profiles or even steal your friends’ profiles to trick you into giving out personal information or money. Again, when in doubt don’t click on it. Facebook has a whole page dedicated to the types of scams they see and ways to protect yourself. 

3.       Take care of your computer: Make sure you have the appropriate software and antivirus programs needed to protect yourself. It is important to back up your computer regularly. This way you have access to your important documents should something happen. It is also important to update your software as needed and run regularly scheduled antivirus scans. Our house has them set up to run each night.

4.       Secure your accounts: Passwords are like keys to your virtual world, and you should do everything you can to protect them. Create unique passwords for every account. I know it sounds tedious, but trust me. Say you have the same password for your email, Spotify, bank, and pizza delivery accounts. All a hacker must do is crack one and they have access to all those accounts. If you can, enable two-step notifications. It can be cumbersome, but it really helps to protect your account.

5.       Secure your home network: This is especially important. If a hacker gets into your home network they have access to everything connected to that network. One time a hacker was able to get into our router and lock us out of our nanny cam for a few hours. I was panicked. Changing the name and password associated with your router is important to deter fraudsters. You also may want to consider adding a firewall, which will monitor and block any potential unwanted activity.

This is just a short overview of security steps you can take to protect yourself online, and as you can see there is a lot here! I encourage you to visit https://staysafeonline.org/ to learn more in depth ways to protect yourself online. Stay tuned to my blog for more posts on internet safety.