4 things you need to do immediately to protect your online privacy
Privacy is an increasingly rare commodity these days. Just search for yourself on Intelius.com and take note of the information the website is doling out for free. If you want the real scoop, you’ll need a bit of pocket change—a true testament to the fact that our personal information is worth something to legitimate businesses as well as criminals. And herein lies the problem. For many people words like “spoof” and “phish”—that relate to receiving bogus emails—are not part of their everyday lexicon, nor do they want them to be. This needs to change. Today you must be educated on how to protect your privacy and secure your data or the consequences will be devastating. With this in mind, consider taking the following actions:
- Stop using free Wi-Fi networks
Hackers creep into a public Wi-Fi networks hoping you missed the all-important memo years ago that began with “never use a pubic Wi-Fi network.” If you failed to heed this warning, your data and activities may be exposed to potential hackers who insert themselves into your communication stream to harvest account passwords and read your email. There’s a better way. The next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, use your personal hotspot, a Virtual Private Network (VPN), or wait until you get to a private, password-protected connection.
- Adhere to strict email security rules
Chances are good that you have received a phishing message in your Inbox. This type of message appears to come from a known source such as FedEx or a bank in your area, when in fact it’s a scam designed to get your attention, to persuade you to click on a link in the email and enter your personal details. Never click on the link — you could download a virus that affects everyone on your network. If in doubt, pick up the phone and call or visit the website directly.
- Consider two-factor authentication for business-related applications
This form of authentication involves logging in with the help of a smartphone as well as a strong password. Upon logging in, you received and must enter a six-digit code.
- Get notified if your name is mentioned online
If your name is ever mentioned on a public page online, you want to know. To get an alert for this, visit www.google.com/alerts or www.talkwalker.com/alerts. Make sure you have a Google alert set up with your first and last name in quotations, for example: “Sue McMaster,” The quotations tell the search engine to keep the string of words together.
In conclusion, it’s good to remember the digital landscape is full of landmines, so slow down and exercise caution when using the Internet. Nothing is full-proof, but if you follow these guidelines, you’re one step closer to protecting your data and your privacy.