How To Stay Secure Online

Internet privacy can be complicated. If you’ve used social media, input personal information online, shopped, agreed to a Terms of Service, or read about internet privacy, then you know how easy it is for information to be leaked, shared, and misused. That being said, there are basic steps everyone can take to stay secure online.

The most important thing to remember when staying secure online is that you can trust no one more than yourself with your information.

The following are a list of simple, quick, and extremely important steps in keeping your information safe, and out of the hands of those who might misuse it.

1. Use a password manager.

That password that you use for almost every account you have online might be a lot easier to guess for a potential hacker or someone looking to steal your information. Just one long, complex, secure password can be hard to remember, but, you should have one for every account. Intimidated? Don’t be. A number of password managing services are available such as Dashlane and 1Password, which generate random passwords and store them for all your accounts, only requiring one master password to unlock stored ones.

2. Choose 2 step verification and biometrics when available.

Two step verification typically requires a code or pin sent to your smartphone, or some other form of additional authentication to log in to an account. Enabling this can help keep your accounts and information more secure, and thus much harder to breach. Another way to stay safe is to use fingerprint or biometric information to log in or lock accounts and devices whenever possible.

3. Keep personal information off social media.

Just because Facebook has all those fields for additional information about yourself, doesn’t mean you should fill them out. Even if you’re only friending, following, and interacting with people you know on social media, always be aware of what information might have the potential to become public.

4. Use encrypted messaging services.

Even though congress recently voted to allow your Internet Service Provider to sell your browsing history and internet habits, there are ways you can keep your conversations and information private. One way is to use encrypted messaging services like Whatsapp or Signal.

5. Only make accounts if you need to.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all made an account with an obscure website for something odd that we’ll only use once and forget about. That’s just part of using the internet. But, there are risks associated with agreeing to terms of services and sharing information when signing up for an account. Knowing this, be mindful and only make an account for a website/service when you need to and when you know you’ll use it more than once. If you do need to make an account, use a secondary email address and only provide as much information as is necessary.

How Pets Increase Home Happiness & Boost Your Health

How Pets Increase Home Happiness & Boost Your Health

Humans love companionship, and so do our four legged friends! All pet owners can attest to how quickly and easily animals we take into our homes become parts of our family. They’re sweet, affectionate, and often seem to care more about our feelings than the other humans we live with!

Our pets offer us more than kisses and unconditional love - they offer us healthier living conditions, too.

Below are some ways, expected and unexpected, that pets make our lives all around happier and healthier.

Staying Active

Having any pet requires work - but we don’t mind doing it! Taking your dog out on a run, walk, or bike ride daily keeps you both heart-healthy! Standing more lowers your risk of heart disease; so as long as you’re walking, feeding, and changing litter boxes, you’ll be more active than your non-pet owning friends. That means you’re free to enjoy a few more chips without any extra guilt!

Unconditional love

At the end of the day, everyone just wants to love and be loved. So watch a movie with your cat or dog. Spend some time playing with him or her and their favorite toy! Your pet also offers you that safe space which you can say anything. We promise you’re not too crazy for complaining to your pet, they listen better than most humans!

Stress Relief

If you’re a pet owner, you can attest to how easy it is to let go of the struggles of a long day while snuggling with your furry friend(s). Yes, your pet can demonstrably lower your stress levels. This is beneficial to your physical and mental health in many ways. Lowering blood pressure, which can be raised by stressors in daily life, also lowers your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, taking your dog or cat out in public automatically makes you a person-magnet. You’re significantly more likely to interact with others if you have a pet with you, and interpersonal interactions also help boost happiness and energy!

Protecting your baby

Having dogs and cats in the home means extra germs are present - it’s not a bad thing! In fact, babies who are raised with a pet in the home have been shown to possess immune systems stronger than those who were raised without pets in their home. Licks from cats and dogs contain generally harmless germs and work to promote your child’s immunity to other, more serious disease and bacteria. Studies show that you, too, are less likely to catch a cold if you live with a pet. Defense up!

Cats are amazing weather sensors

Many people talk about how their cat’s behavior changes hours before thunder and rain storms. This may seem surprising, but it’s been scientifically proven that cats (indoor and big cats alike) have the ability to sense electromagnetic forces from the earth that drive weather patterns. Many curl up in their “safe” space hours before storms hit to get ready for inbound foul weather. Be sure to close those windows ASAP!

Dogs keep their family members safe

We all know that dogs love their owners and family just as much as they love to nap! They also love to wake up to all things that go “bump” in the night, and they’re likely to wake you up while doing so. Although it can be frustrating at times, you'll thank your best friend that you were made aware of that out of place individual walking your street at 2am. In fact, one of the top factors that prevents burglars from targeting your home is the mere presence of a dog!

Essential Safety Tips For Renters

Renting poses a very unique situation for residential security. As a renter, you have extremely specific needs when it comes to the safety of you and your home. Living in a building, no matter the size, that often has high foot traffic of unknown people, a myriad of tenants, and is often dog-free raises many seemingly answered questions pertaining about the safety of you, your family, and your belongings.

As a renter, you are in a very unique situation and are at a significantly higher risk of burglary, theft, and intrusion. Don’t be a burglar’s next victim - gain peace of mind with these tips.

There are many things that you need to consider as renter when it comes to your safety. We hope that this guide is helps you secure peace of mind:

Research Before You Move In

Make Observations About the Lighting

  • Is the neighborhood well-lit? This will play a much bigger factor than you think - when you have visitors come over, they shouldn’t have to worry about their car getting broken into in the dark. And, if you have street parking in your building, you shouldn’t have to worry about your car constantly, either.

Make Observations About the General Upkeep of the Neighborhood

  • Is the neighborhood well-kept? This not only affects property value, but it also is indicative of the overall safety of the area.

Research Local Crime

  • There are some great resources out there that you can use to assess the safety of your neighborhood. If you have a family -you should always do this, but even you are single, it’s important information to know.

Talk to Tenants

  • Do you have friends who live in the neighborhood? Or in the building? If so, be sure to talk to them about any possible safety issues that they’ve had. Getting insider information is the most valuable part of the research process.

Note the Fire Escapes

  • Know what’s required by law that should be in your building. Note where the fire escapes are, and ask to check them on your visit.

Research or Add Renter’s Insurance to Your Current Insurance Plan

  • Renter’s Insurance!  Get it - it can be easily added to your existing plan, and is very affordable.

While You’re Moving In

Be Sure to Make Observations About the Tenants

  • Who are the tenants? Try to make observations about your neighbors and trust your intuition - don’t ignore it.

Don’t Let Tenants Help You Move In

  • You probably don’t even know these people yet - so don’t let them into your apartment when you’re moving in. They could see your valuables or get to know you better- which could be bad for you in the future.

Use Solid, Opaque Boxes

  • Don’t use clear containers as boxes - movers and other tenants could see valuables or your everyday belongings. You don’t want people whom you don’t know to get a glimpse inside of your life.

Don’t Talk About Your Schedule with Your Neighbors

  • Shiny new job? Great, but don’t tell them your schedule. Being unpredictable and mysterious is another layer of protection against burglaries. If your neighbors don’t know your schedule, they’ll be less inclined to try to break in as a crime of opportunity.

After you Move In

Buy Door Bars

  • For the porch or other sliding doors - these are great for really bolstering your basic home security. An overwhelming majority of burglars enter through sliding doors as they are surprisingly easy to open, even when locked.

Get New Locks

  • Get. New. Locks. This one is obvious, but we can’t emphasize this enough.

Examine the Window Locks

  • Test the window locks - if they are shaky or feel weak when you try to push or pull them, you need to replace them.

Make an Exit Strategy

  • This should be done before you’re officially moved in. Make an exit strategy so you can quickly, and safely, get out in any situation. Hopefully you will never have to use this, but it’s great to have.

Invest in Good Blinds

  • Good for sleeping in, and for preventing unwanted gazes into your home. Home invasions do not happen by accident - most of them were planned based on past information that the burglar(s) has gathered, whether it be from social media or simply from peering into an open window.

Get a Safe

  •  Store your valuables in a safe - this adds another layer of security to your apartment. After a burglar has invaded, they are extremely eager to get out as fast as possible - they do not want to deal with a heavy safe. They’ll pass it up and go for an easier target.

Get a Home Security System

  • There are so many amazing home security systems out there that fit all budgets - so there is not an excuse not to get one. Many of them are extremely user friendly - so much so that even young children can easily be taught to use them. Also, home security systems can provide you with peace of mind when you are not home - know that your belongings are untouched in all situations. Do your research. Many home security systems can also be seamlessly integrated into your smart home system.
  • We recommend staying away from home security companies that do not have their own monitoring center, as they can be difficult to work with. Also, go local! That may not sound like the safest option, but it can be easy and affordable. Also, local companies genuinely care about your safety, you’re not just another customer to them.

We know this is an extensive list - and we want it to be. We don’t mean to scare you, but we want you to gain peace of mind as much as possible. The only worse thing about living in paranoia, is living in fear. Be proactive - and don’t be a burglar’s next victim.

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