With so much of life conducted online, it can be easy to forget the importance of privacy and protecting information. Most people have no idea just how much of their personal information is online. If it’s compromised, you can suffer serious personal and professional consequences, including damage to your reputation.
Understanding and following the basics of online privacy will do a lot to protect your interests. If your needs ever go beyond these basics, you can also work with professionals in online reputation management for a comprehensive approach. They can protect your information and help put your life back together after an incident.
Keep Your Passwords Protected
Remembering passwords can be a real pain, which leads many people to use the same one or two repeatedly. This may be easier on your memory, but it’s a mistake for security reasons. If someone gets their hands on your password for one account, all of your passwords will be vulnerable.
A good solution is to use an online password manager. These programs generate complex passwords that are difficult to guess.
If you still want to create your own passwords, use a different one for each account and make sure they are strong. A strong password should:
- Be at least eight characters long
- Avoid commonly used words and predictable word sequences (use a string of random words instead)
- Include numbers and other non-letter characters
Be Cautious with E-Commerce
There’s no reason to avoid online shopping totally, but do proceed with caution. E-commerce sites require more information than many sites, including financial details, which can put you at risk. Trustworthy shops will have appropriate security in place to make spending online low-risk.
When shopping online, avoid any sites that seem sketchy or lack basic security features. Always look at customer reviews to find out if anyone has had security issues with the business. If in doubt, it’s best to play it safe and avoid giving a site your credit card details or personal information.
Think Twice About Downloads
An email attachment is a favorite tool of scammers and phishers. Be very wary of downloading any attachments you get through email. Fraudulent messages can look legitimate but include spyware or malware set up to steal your personal information.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, phishing emails have some typical characteristics:
- They appear to be from a company you’re familiar with or trust
- The greeting is generic, rather than addressing you by name
- The email includes a message stating something is wrong, or your action is required
- It asks you to click on a link
- There are often typos or small details that are wrong
Use Antivirus Protection
Good antivirus protection on your computer is invaluable. It can prevent virus and malware attacks that slow down your operating system, corrupt files, and steal your sensitive personal information.
Don’t rely only on the protection that comes with your operating system, as it likely isn’t as effective and comprehensive as third-party antivirus software. It’s worth the cost to buy a good program.
Once you have software installed, set it to notify you of any threats, as well as any pending software updates. You should also be sure to renew your subscription yearly. Make sure it is downloading updates as they come in and look for notifications that something is wrong. If there is an issue, the program should offer solutions.
Be Careful When Using WiFi
It can be convenient to save money on cellular data by jumping on the WiFi wherever you happen to be, but use caution when connecting to public networks. Public and unsecured WiFi networks, like those at coffee shops and libraries, put your information at risk. If you have to use one of these networks, avoid sharing private information or making any purchases online.
Don’t Be Too Social on Social Media
Social media sites contain much more information about you than you probably realize. You can enjoy connecting with friends and family while ensuring security and a certain degree of privacy. First, set your accounts to private. This allows you to control who can see your pages.
Avoid sending sensitive information, like credit card details or your address, through social media sites. Never include them in posts, and don’t use the messenger services to share that kind of information either. For in-person safety, avoid geo tagging your location when you’re close to home or work.
Protect Your Data To Protect Your Future
Taking these simple steps to protect your online privacy is essential to safeguard your personal and professional future. So much of your reputation is now dependent on what people see online, as is the security of your financial and personal information. If your online security is compromised, identity theft can ruin your good reputation. Fortunately, taking these steps can help you avoid an incident.