Do you protect your personal information online? This is more important than ever, yet we too often neglect taking measures to protect that information -- we even do the opposite, and leave ourselves vulnerable without knowing it.

Here are six steps you can take to secure your information while enjoying and taking advantage of the internet.

​​​​​​​Avoid Using Personal Networks

To protect your personal information online, it’s best not to use personal networks, free wifi networks, or hotspots -- these have no security features and can be easily accessed.

But if you have to, don’t log into secure accounts on them (i.e. bank accounts, social media, etc). These networks are not safe for your personal information.

How do I protect myself?

Don’t log into important accounts on a personal network.

Encrypt Your Computer's Hard Drive

Encrypting your hard drive protects all of your computer’s information from a possible security breach to protect your personal information online.

Encrypting the entire drive and not just some folders makes sure that nothing falls through the cracks and that all of your confidential information is safe.

Also, encrypting only highly important data makes that data easier to pinpoint if someone is trying to get into your files.

How do I protect myself?

Use Bitlocker on Windows.

Delete Unnecessary Apps

Games can be fun, and many apps can seem useful at first, but they often carry a ton of bloat. Abandoned apps can open vulnerabilities that can be exposed to hackers. Keeping a sparse smartphone screen also helps speed up your devices.

How do I protect myself?

Clean out your apps once a month and delete anything you're not actively using daily. You can always re-install them later.

Lock Down Your Social Media

We get it, we all love likes, and social media is now like second nature: we post photos every time we go out, every new place we visit, and when we come home, and we often tag our location as well.

But by constantly posting photos and statuses, you are sharing your location and habits, consciously or not.

These posts make it very easy for scammers to learn who you are, what you do, when you'll be home, or where you're going -- all without even sending a friend request.

How do you protect your personal information online?

  • Restrict your privacy settings for all major networks: check out Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter’s privacy settings.
  • Remove unknown contacts and only add your friends and family to social media.
  • Tell people where you're going before you go, just in case something happens.

Avoid Phishing Emails

Phishing is when someone tries to get confidential information such as usernames, passwords, credit card info, and more by pretending to be a trustworthy source (e.g. a friend, a bank, or a subscription service).

Phishing often happens through emails. Usually, it leads to a fake website that looks real, where they ask for your private information.

How do you protect your personal information online?

  • Never open unexpected attachments from anyone - friend or stranger. If it’s from a friend, ask them if they sent it before opening.
  • Be cautious when clicking on links in emails and elsewhere. Hovering over the link will often display the URL for you to see. Make sure you recognize the URL or that it matches where you expect to go.
  • Also, look for a padlock symbol in the address bar and check that the URL begins with a 'https://' or 'shttp://'. This means they are safe.
  • Make sure the "sender name" matches the email address and that it’s coming from where you expect (Example:  "CitiBank" won't ever send you an email from a fluffyprincezz567@yahoo.com account).
  • If the email has bad grammar, chances are, it’s a scam.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two -factor authentication is when a computer user is given access to log in only after successfully they’ve entered two or more pieces of “evidence.” It improves security by adding another level of authentication and making it harder for someone to access your sensitive information.

Two-factor authentication can be a pain, but it’s worth it. It's an added safety net, particularly when you're on new devices or networks that you don't typically use.

How do you protect your personal information online?

Here’s how to set up two-factor authentication on all your online accounts.

 

These methods may seem like a hassle, but they’re relatively simple, and they’re worth the trouble to protect your personal information when you’re online. Take the steps to secure yourself.

-----

S-FX.com Small Business Solutions is a boutique web design and technology consulting agency geared towards start-up businesses, small businesses and non-profit businesses.  We specialize in implementing low cost technology solutions to maximize efficiency and reduce business operating costs.