Protect Your Privacy Online
Scammers and fraudsters use all sorts of tricks to try and steal your personal and private information online. Educating yourself is one of the best ways to stay one step ahead and protect your information.
In recognition of Choose Privacy Week, sponsored by the ALA (American Library Association), we've put together 5 simple tips to help safeguard your privacy online.
1. Use Complex Passwords
Keeping your passwords simple might seem like a smart way to make sure you remember them. But simple passwords make it easier for hackers to gain access to your accounts.
Using complex passwords can put an additional barrier between hackers and your private information. And just because a password is complex, doesn't mean it has to be complicated and hard to remember.
For example, let's say your password is "pizza." Simple, easy to remember, and admittedly delicious. But also easy to guess. One way to make this simple password complex, is to use symbols in place of letters. So, "pizza" becomes "[email protected]" Still easy for you to remember, but harder for hackers.
Adding capitalization and numbers can also increase the integrity of your passwords.
2. Keep Your Social Accounts Private
Unless your social media accounts are connected to your business, it's good advice to keep them private.
With the help of various platforms, hackers can easily scan your social media posts for keywords and phrases that might give them clues to your passwords, location, online purchasing habits, and other valuable information.
3. Be Wary of Participating in Social Media "Challenges"
You should be careful about participating in social media "challenges," particularly on Facebook. These "challenges" are designed to pull information about you, particularly information regarding common answers to security questions.
A popular, and seemingly innocent, "challenge" is the "copy -and-paste" list, such as "10 Things I Hate that Most People Like" or "15 Facts About Me." A friend will post the questions and their answers, tag people, and ask them to do the same.
4. Pay Attention to App Requests
Usually, when you download and install a new app on your phone, tablet, or laptop, it will ask for access to certain information about you.
If the app is connected to your Facebook account, for instance, the app might ask to receive information about your public profile and friends list.
Pay attention to how much access the app is requesting. Some apps only want your profile picture and public information, while others will request access to a lot more.
Think about the possible reasons why an app would request that much information about you, and, more importantly, what information you're comfortable sharing.
5. Be on the Lookout for Suspicious Emails
Often referred to as "phishing," hackers will use fake emails in an attempt to gain your personal information.
These emails will appear, at first glance, to come from trustworthy sources. They're designed to make you panic and act without thinking.
Some things to think about when receiving a suspicious email:
- Check the email address of the sender. Usually, there's a clue there, such as an extra or missing letter in the sender line. So, a fake email from Visa might say [email protected]
- Never click on a link in an email. If you are not sure about the originating website address, Google it
- Call first, but don't use the number in the email. It could be fake as well. Look up the contact info online
- Be guarded, especially if you are asked to respond right away with your full Social Security Number or date of birth
Hackers are always on the lookout for easy information. Taking these small steps can make a big difference in protecting your online privacy.