Tips for Protecting Your Personal Information

Tips for Protecting Your Personal Information
January 03 07:38 2018 Print This Article

With 2017 being labeled by many “The Year of the Hacks”, it may be more important than ever to secure all of your digital information from any party that may seek to use it to harm you. With most people spending an average of 6 hours per day on their digital devices and possessing an approximate 6 social media or email accounts, there are great possibilities that hackers could manage to compromise one of your accounts or devices and access your personal data, which can lead to serious financial or personal consequences.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some basic but hugely helpful actions you can take to protect your information from malicious parties.

 

Password-protect all your devices

Some people don’t think it’s important to password protect their home computers or consoles, as they are not meant to leave the home. However, it is highly important that you protect any single digital device you use. Any stolen gadget can easily become a source of personal information for whoever manages to obtain it, and it can be used to access accounts and steal personal information quite easily.

While most of us only think of tablets, smartphones, laptops and consoles when we consider our information’s safety, it’s important to make sure to change the default passwords for everything that connected to your home network, including baby monitors, smart watches, smart fridges, and most importantly, your router.  Without the proper security, your router could easily give a hacker complete access to your home network, and leave you utterly exposed.

 

Choose strong and unique passwords for all your online accounts

Just like devices, it is hugely important to provide adequate protection to every online account you have. Most accounts will have required you to create a password for them, but having just any password is not good enough.

First of all, you must make sure to choose strong passwords, containing a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and special symbols.

Secondly, you must NEVER use the same password for two different sites. If you do and one of your accounts is compromised in a data breach, as was the case with Yahoo in 2016, then other accounts using the same login credentials could be vulnerable to hackers with access to login information. Therefore, it is important to set a unique password for each of your online accounts.

If you find yourself having trouble remembering all those complex, unique passwords, consider using a password manager to keep track of every one of them. There are many options out there to choose from, each featuring different features and price plans.

Finally, make sure to turn on two-factor authentication for any site that supports it. This feature will protect your account even if a hacker obtain your password.

 

Use services that don’t require registration whenever possible

Before you create an account for that “Convert Word to PDF” site you are about to use, you might want to check for alternative sites that do not require you to register to use their services. Many companies are moving towards a no registration system in order to allow players a safer experience, with perhaps the most relevant example being NinjaCasino, an online casino that has gained great attention for eliminating the need to create an account in order to play their games.

 

Close your unused online accounts

Remember your old MySpace, Hotmail or Live Journal account that you used ages ago and never thought about again? Is it still open? If you don’t remember closing it, there is a big chance that you never actually did. If your account is still open, all your personal information stored in it is currently vulnerable in case of a breach involving any of these companies. Old email accounts could possibly be holding sensible financial information, which could make you liable to identity theft.

Take the time to track down your old accounts and close them down. It won’t take very long, and it could possibly prevent a huge headache in the future.

 

Do not sync sensitive information to the cloud

Both Apple and Google devices offer automatic syncing of photos, contact list, and other information into their respective clouds, which will help you recover everything in case the device is ever lost. While this service is hugely useful for everyone, make sure you are careful with the kind of information that is uploaded to the cloud. Some people like to save credit card numbers into their contacts, or take pictures of their ID to store on their phone. Make sure all sensitive information is not synced along with the rest.

 

Secure your browsers

Your browser is the platform that you use to interact with just about every digital destination, and if you are not mindful you could easily be leaving behind plenty of personal information. Most websites will use cookies to track what you are searching and the sites that you visit, and hackers can also spy on what you are doing online.

To prevent this, make sure to turn off third party cookies from your browser options. Another smart option is to disable JavaScript, which can be used by advertisers and hackers to track you as well. Any time you are accessing sensitive information, you may also want to consider using Incognito mode, or downloading the Privacy Badger add-on to shut down trackers automatically.

 

Be wary of free public Wi-Fi

Free public Wi-Fi can be a very convenient way of saving your data, however it is also an easy target for hackers to spy your online activity. With the right tools, anyone else on the same Wi-Fi network could easily “eavesdrop” on any sensitive information you input, such as passwords, credit card numbers or bank information.

Even if a network is password protected, anyone who possesses the password could possibly have access to this same kind of information. Therefore, it’s best you save all your sensitive transactions for secure networks, or use a VPN to encrypt your online activity so others in the same network cannot see it.

 

Do not charge your device by connecting it to other people’s computer

Not only is there a risk of being infected by whatever malware that computer may have, but there is also a chance some of your data may be accidentally synced with that computer, possibly transferring sensitive information.

 

Be wary of what you share on social media

Whenever you post anything on social media, it feels like you are simply sharing fun moments with your close friends. However, there is a chance that what you are posting is there for the whole world to see. While this might not seem like that big a problem, some of the information you post can be used to track down your location or what you are currently doing.

Not only that, but information shared on your profile can also be used to steal your identity. Therefore it is hugely important that you check the settings on your social media accounts to make sure that all your posts are only seen by your close friends, and to leave blank as much information as possible on your profile to make it harder for people to identify you.

 

Keep your eyes open

While there are many different threats that could potentially lead to a security breach in your accounts, following all of the advice above and keeping an eye out for suspicious sites and situations will help in keeping your accounts and personal information safe.

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About Article Author

Jonathan Yaniv
Jonathan Yaniv

Jonathan is the founder and editor-in-chief of TrustedNerd.com. Covering major tech shows such as CES, Jonathan is always there for the latest tech news. Want your gadget to be reviewed or have a release you’d like to be considered for publishing? Send Jonathan an email, jonathan [at] trustednerd.com

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