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Here’s How to Protect Your Privacy Online

Cybercrime has been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic, but it was already a legitimate threat before. Hackers these days are relying on increasingly sophisticated phishing attacks, ransomware, and even crypto-jacking malware that can hijack your machine for nefarious purposes without you even knowing.

To protect yourself, you need to prioritize safeguarding your privacy online. If you can keep your private data to yourself and out of the hands of hackers, they won’t be able to attack you. Of course, you can’t always keep your data private – data beaches are a real thing. But if you follow these tips, you can do a lot to protect yourself from cybercriminals.

Use a VPN

If you’re on a public network, anyone else who’s on the network can see your traffic. If you’re going to use public wifi at all, you should use a VPN. You can also use a VPN on your home network if you don’t want the government or other bad actors to be able to see your traffic – or if you’re worried about the overall security of your network against hackers.

Create Strong, Unique Passwords for Every Account

This is where a lot of people go wrong. It’s very tempting to use the same password for multiple accounts because it’s easy to remember. It’s also very tempting to use a password that’s easy to remember, but not that secure – like one based on dictionary words, for example.

But if you’re using the same password for multiple accounts, and then a hacker gets or guesses that password, he or she will be able to get into all those other accounts that use the same password. Use strong, unique passwords for every account. They should be a combination of letters, special characters, and numbers at least 16 characters long. Use a password manager to generate and keep track of all your account logins.

Implement Stronger Authentication Measures

If you really want to protect your accounts, you need to implement stronger authentication measures than a password alone. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) for accounts with password logins. You can also use a more secure form of login, like biometrics or a single-use code texted to a mobile device.

Recognize Scam Attempts

Most of the time, hackers aren’t going to crack your password using a brute force attack or any kind of password-cracking software. They’re going to get your password directly from you. Maybe they’ll use social engineering to get you to give them your personal information yourself. Maybe they’ll glean it from your social media profiles.

Phishing and other forms of social engineering scams are rife these days, and you have to know how to recognize them so you can protect yourself. Be suspicious of any emails you get, especially those urging you to take quick action regarding your bank accounts, tax bills, online orders, or deliveries. Educate yourself on the characteristics of a phishing scam, so you can avoid losing money and compromising your personal information. Use comprehensive internet security software to filter phishing emails out of your email inbox, as well as protect you from viruses, malware, and malicious websites.

Keep Mum on Social Media

Broadcasting your movement and routines to the world on social media might not be the best move if you care about protecting your privacy. It’s not just the people on your friend’s list who can see what you post on social media. Your profiles on many social media accounts are publicly viewable, at least they are if you haven’t tightened your privacy settings. Even if you have tightened your security, people you’re friends with can screenshot your profile and posts and share them outside of your bubble, or they can let people not on your list browse your profile from their device.

Istanbul, Turkey – September 18, 2015: Apple Iphone 6 screen with social media applications of Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Periscope while a male finger is about to touch on Facebook app.

So, there’s always some measure of risk in using social media, but protect your privacy by thinking twice before you share private information, like your birthday, the name of the street you grew up on, or your mother’s maiden name. Wait until you get home to share the vacation pics. Avoid posting your whereabouts constantly or outlining your daily routine via your social media posts.

Move Fast in the Event of a Data Breach

In the event, your private information is compromised in a data breach, act quickly. Sign up for a credit monitoring service, if you don’t already have one. Place a fraud alert on your credit file or go one step further and completely freeze your credit so that no one – including you – can take out any credit in your name until the freeze is removed. Privacy may have once been taken for granted, but not anymore. Protect your privacy, and you’ll protect the security of your personal information. You’ll be glad you made the effort when you’re able to avoid or mitigate the damage of a fraud incident.