With the increasing amount of personal information shared and stored online, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to protect yourself.
Here are a few essential tips to help you safeguard your sensitive data and maintain your digital privacy.
Use strong passwords
Strong passwords are the first line of defense against any data leaks and hacks. Create ones that are a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, and always avoid using easily guessable information like birthdays or names. You’ll also want to create unique passwords for all your accounts to prevent a domino effect in case one is compromised. As another layer of protection, enable two-factor authentication, which requires a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone, to log in. And be sure to change your passwords at least once every three months to better protect your personal data.
Beware of phishing attempts
Phishing emails or messages try to trick you into revealing personal information by posing as legitimate entities like banks, utility companies, and other organizations. Always be cautious when clicking links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. Before doing anything, verify the sender’s email address or phone number and check for any red flags, including grammatical errors or urgent requests for personal information.
Review privacy settings
All apps collect some form of data as you use them. This can include who you are, what you’re interested in, and what you do online. That’s why it’s important to review and adjust your privacy settings on social media platforms and online accounts so you can better control what information is being shared. Beyond that, you’ll want to limit the information you share publicly online, such as your birthday, address, travel plans, and other personal details, and only connect with people you know. Regularly look over the information visible on your profiles and revise as necessary. And if you no longer use a specific app, delete it from your device so it stops collecting data.
Always update software
Keeping the software in your devices, operating systems, browsers, and apps up-to-date is key to securing your information. Software updates often include security patches that address vulnerabilities hackers could exploit. If you haven’t already, enable automatic updates so that the various systems and applications on your phone, tablet, and computer will keep up with the latest patches.
Use secure Wi-Fi networks
Whenever possible, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for tasks that involve sensitive information, like online banking. Public networks are often less secure than private networks and can be hot spots for hackers. As for your home network, take steps to keep it secure, such as by enabling Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA2 or WPA3) and using a strong, unique username and password.
Encrypt your data
For additional protection, consider encrypting sensitive files and data on your devices. Encryption converts your data into a code that requires a specific key to interpret, making it impossible for hackers to do anything with the data should they gain access to it. Additionally, a virtual private network (VPN) can protect your online activity and search history by encrypting the data and keeping it from being tracked or hacked.
Regularly monitor your accounts
As with many other things, protecting your data online isn’t a one-and-done task. Instead, you’ll need to regularly review your financial accounts, social media sites, applications, and credit reports for any suspicious activity. This early detection can minimize the damage if your information does end up becoming compromised.