We produce a nearly endless stream of data every day; Facebook alone has more than two billion active users to date. But how many of us truly understand the risks that come with having an online presence? Even seemingly harmless information, like your lunch menu and online purchases, can be used to create online profiles. This information is sought after by big corporations or even worse, cybercriminals.
To make your online experience as safe as possible, here are some tips that you should follow moving forward:
Manage your cookies
Surfing the web can be annoying at times, especially when that “Enable cookies?” pop-up appears. Cookies are files created by websites to make your experience much more convenient, such as keeping you signed in and giving you “relevant” content. Unfortunately, this also means granting websites partial access to your information. Instead of automatically clicking “accept,” click “manage your cookies” and read which ones you are enabling and to what extent.
Use a VPN
Using local wifi save option to secure your online presence. Mobile data is expensive. So whenever we chance upon reliable local Wi-Fi hotspots, we connect to them. However, since it’s a public network, the risks are high. There’s no way to know if the network is secure or if it’s purposefully made to snag information. Browsing through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can hide your identity. In fact, PCMag recently conducted a VPN survey and found that 43% of users install VPNs to access public Wi-Fi. Plus, since a VPN changes your IP address, as a bonus, it can also be used to access region-locked websites. When Netflix wasn’t available in countries outside the Western world, many outsiders turned to VPNs to access content.
Create strong passwords
A strong password is a primary key to secure your online presence. It may seem like a given, but a lot of people ignore this step whenever they create a new account. A secure password needs to have three things:
- – A minimum of 12 characters
- – A combination of letters, numbers, and symbols
- – Includes none of your basic information (names, birthday, and more)
Keyboard smashing can also generate you a truly random password, which you can then jolt down somewhere.
Think before you post
Security doesn’t only mean protecting your data from hackers, but also cyberlaw. For example, Georgia and New Jersey are currently drafting a bill that makes it illegal for anyone other than a parent to photograph their kids. Businesses have stricter rules. If they want to post pictures of their employees and whatnot, they have to make them sign a contract, except if it’s a public event. This is why PPPoker’s LinkedIn page uses photos of community events, which speaks a lot about the issue of user privacy. Post pictures of yourself all you want, but when it involves or contains other people, it’s essential to know the rules.
Owning a social media account comes with multiple risks. But one risk that usually isn’t considered is the use of hashtags. The only people who can see your posts, unless it’s public, are your friends and the platform developers. However, adding hashtags makes them searchable. Hashtags are a genuine tool people use to search for similar posts. If you want to keep your profile as private as possible, don’t use hashtags.
The internet has opened up countless possibilities. However, it has also exposed us to many risks. Security is no joke, and now more than ever is the time to integrate it.Follow us on Social Media