In these times of essentially needing to be connected to the internet, it has become more critical than ever to be mindful of your online privacy. Failure to do so can lead to a loss of money or even your online reputation. You should always be cognizant of what you are doing on the internet and make sure you are always protected.
What Does Online Privacy Mean?
Depending on who you ask, online privacy can mean different things to different people. In general, the way that I define online privacy is the level of security you have on your information being published and shared on the internet. When I speak of online privacy, I am referring to not only your monitoring techniques but also technology-based protection.
Using the Internet Safely
As more and more people start using the internet every day, using it safely become more and more of a concern. You may be asking yourself if we even have online privacy anymore. Part of me would like to think that we do, but another part of me thinks those days are long gone. If you were to do the math on the number of users and the number of hacked accounts from 20 years ago and compared it to today, you would see how right I might be.
Lucky for you, there have already been studies that I can share with you. According to a study done by CNBC, over 7.9 billion accounts were hacked last year. You may be saying, well, that is the same number of people we have on the planet; are you saying we have all been hacked? No. That is the number of accounts. It is common knowledge that any given person has over ten accounts to their name. So, accounting for the number of people on the planet that do not have or do not want online accounts would be very few people impacted. I say very few because generally when one person’s accounts are hacked, multiple accounts from that person are hacked. The reason is that people tend to use the same password for all accounts. This makes hacking accounts much more straightforward. Since this blog is not about creating a password, I will leave it there until another blog.
I know I may have scared a few of you, and you are thinking that if it is that common, maybe I am just better off not having internet accounts. While this is a step you can take, it is not realistic, nor is it one I recommend. Instead, take a look at a few ways that you can protect yourself and have the best of both worlds.
By far, the number one way that hackers access your information is by sending you a virus. The methods they obtain your email address are vast I don’t have time to go into those details. You can avoid getting an infection from an email or a download by having an antivirus program. These programs actively search for viruses and try to cut them off before they destroy computers. That is not to say they get all of them before they get to a few machines. It is to say they make every effort to minimize the impact.
Even if you have antivirus software installed on your computer, there are still ways for hackers to get a hold of your sensitive information. One way that they do this is through websites.
Have you ever been on a website that wants personal information about you? Most people have come across this at one point on the internet. Some people think they are well protected, so they grant access to the website so they can read whatever it is they went to read in the first place.
This is a big mistake. Before you allow anyone access to your information, you need first to check to see what information they want. Next, you need to make sure the website is adequately encrypted. Sharing your information is not always bad, but doing so on an unsecured site is a recipe for disaster. The best way to tell is if the website starts with “https.” That S is significant. It lets you know they have encryption methods installed on their site.
Another way to protect yourself is by using 2-step login verification. Essentially what this does is inform you that someone is trying to login to your account. If it is your account, you will get a text or an email that will provide you with a code that you then must enter. Doing this will prevent anyone you do not want in your account from gaining access. Nearly all trusted sites will have an option for this method of logging in. It can be a little inconvenient at times, but trust me, it is well worth the extra effort.
Secure Your Wi-Fi
The last tip I am going to share with you deals with your home internet. While it is not much of a problem if you have a router supplied to you from your internet provider, it can be a problem if you install your router.
If you are not up to date on your digital lingo, a router is hardware your computer and wireless devices use to access the internet. Since wireless devices do not have to be plugged directly into the box, it will send radio waves to a specific area. If you have it set up to broadcast far, people outside your home can access it. If you don’t have a password, they can obtain the signal and subsequently, your computer. Any computer or mobile device connected to the router can be accessed by those who know what they are doing.
Online privacy and online reputation go hand in hand. Protecting yourself is paramount anytime you have an internet connection. I would even go so far as to tell you to avoid public hotspots. This is the number one place that accounts get hacked. Take the appropriate steps, and you will never have an issue.