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.