Tips to Protect Your Privacy Online by Alek Sabin

Today, the world has gotten more and more digital. In some ways, this has opened the door to convenience and connection that the world has never known. However, these new opportunities come with their fair share of dangers as well. We’ve all heard horror stories of people experiencing identity theft, getting their accounts hacked, and having their money stolen. In short, while the digital age has opened up the world, it has also created new threats to privacy that we’re still learning how to navigate. To help you do that, here are some simple steps you can take that go a long way to protecting your privacy online...

Use Data Encryption (and Look for Secure Sites)
If you are sending private and confidential information over the internet, you need to make sure that data
encryption is set up on the pages and portals you are using. For the most part, this is less about you
actively using it, and more about you actively looking to see if the sites you are using have encryption. 

The main way that you can tell if a site has data encryption software is by looking to see if there is a
locked padlock symbol next to the URL in your browser. If the padlock is unlocked, that means that the
site doesn’t have its SSL set up correctly and that it is insecure. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the
site is dangerous, but it does mean you shouldn’t download anything from it or put any information into it.

Have Good Password Habits
Bad password security is one of the main ways that people get their identity stolen or their accounts
hacked. Never share your passwords with anyone, and try to avoid having them in a digital place that
can be seen by hackers. It’s much safer to write down your passwords in a notepad that is kept in a
secure spot within your home. You should also use a healthy mix of numbers, symbols, and letters in
your password. Lastly, make sure that you change your password regularly so that the likelihood of a
nefarious actor getting the right password for your accounts is lessened.

Use Secure Payment Methods
Never purchase anything from a site that doesn’t have a secure and trusted method of payment. This is
similar to the data encryption tip further up, as you should absolutely never put account information into an
insecure site. However, even if the site is secure, you should try to stay away from sites that use a method
of payment that you haven’t had before. An example of a trusted payment portal with excellent security
would be PayPal. Another note on this topic: if you are going to use cryptocurrency, make sure that you
are using one that has a trusted blockchain (read this blog post to know what a blockchain is and why it’s important for privacy).

Be Careful of Social Media Sites
Everyone is on social media, nowadays, and that’s not a bad thing. However, you need to make sure that
you are using your discretion on social media. Most social media platforms’ privacy features are iffy at best.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t put anything on your social media account that you wouldn’t want to be
shown in a public forum where anyone can see.

Back Up Information on a Separate Device
Any important information that you have online, whether it is in your email or on a cloud-based storage
program (like Google Drive), should be backed up on a physical device, as well. This is because these
accounts have the potential to be hacked and that information tampered with. If you take that information
and put it on a hard drive, then you have a reliable backup that can be used to restore those files.

Use Security Software
Lastly, even though most sites you’re going to be visiting have their own security features that may be
fairly reliable, it’s a good idea to purchase some of your own security software to protect your hardware
from potential attacks when browsing the web. Cisco, McAfee, and Norton are some popular and common
companies that provide such a product.

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