While home security remains a top concern for many people, today we grapple with a new urgency: keeping our online information safe. Just this week, Dropbox announced a massive security breach. Millions of users names, email addresses, and personal information has been accessed by hackers. If you haven’t taken the time to change your password, do so now!
How can you make sure that your online activity and information is safe? While there’s no way to completely safeguard all of your data, you can adopt the following best practices.
- Share only Necessary Information
This may seem like a no-brainer, yet it’s commonly overlooked. Only share what is necessary online! Get into the practice of asking yourself: Would I want this information leaked? If not, try and find a work-around or share minimal amounts of the data.
- Assign an Online Credit Card
Online shopping is a wonderful thing. You can place an order one day and receive your item 24 hours later. Because online shopping and digital commerce will only increase in the future, do what you can to limit the amount of financial material you share. One idea is to only use one credit card for all of your online purchases. This way, if you’re card is stolen or compromised, you’ll have less back-pedaling to do. You’ll also be able to track your spending more efficiently in this manner.
- Never Shop from an Untrusted Site
This goes hand in hand from the previous tip, but you’ll want to make sure that the site you’re granting your account number to is a verified business. Look at the site’s URL. It should always begin with https:// and there should be a lock icon in your browser. If you’re second-guessing the legitimacy of a site, it’s best to forgo it completely!
- ‘Google’ Yourself!
It’s not uncommon for an online Whitepages to publish your personal information to the world. This data may include your name, personal address, phone number, even salary. Take a minute to Google yourself to see if any of these listings reveal personal information that you’d rather not share. In many cases, these sites will remove your data immediately after a simple request.
- Log Out Of All Non-Personal Computers
Whether you use a floating laptop at work or you’re visiting the library’s computers on the weekend, be sure to logout of all sites and profiles on computers that are used by other people.
- Create Strong Passwords
Creating a strong password is one of the best ways you can keep your information safe online. Don’t use your birthday, street address, or a generic password, like 1234. When possible create one that includes 8 characters, a number, a capital letter, and a non-alphabetical character.
- Keep a Physical Password Diary
Do you feel like you have too many passwords to keep track of? Why not use a physical log to keep your passwords safe. This is especially important if you’re utilizing an online banking system. It’s important to keep this log in a safe space; like a locked desk drawer.
- Wipe Your Computer Clean
It’s inevitable that your devices and computers will someday need to be replaced. When the time comes, be sure that you’re removing all information on these machines before you donate or discard them.
- Utilize a Lock Feature
Today, most computers and phones allow you to lock the device when not in use. This is a great way to prevent your information to be taken if you accidentally leave your phone at a restaurant or if the device is stolen. Choose a hard to crack code and keep it armed at all times.
- Use Social Media Wisely
Social media is a great tool to stay connected with friends and family members who may be living next door or even across the world. Today, users are liberal with what they share: photographs of family members; the location of an upcoming vacation; where and how you work. If you’re somebody who loves to share everything, take a minute to check your privacy settings on the profile. You may trust your friends and connections, but what about the larger world?
- Check-Up after a Security Breach
Finally, make it a habit to change your password after a company announces a security breach. It’s not a bad idea to make frequent checks to your online debit or credit card as well. Taking precautionary steps may save you a very painful process down the line!