How to Protect Your Privacy Online

From shopping and paying bills, to checking your credit score, there’s no denying that a lot of financial activity takes place online nowadays. With these activities comes the need to share personal information as well – shipping addresses, billing information, credit card numbers, phone numbers, date of birth and more. Sharing this type of information on the internet comes with the risk of compromised personal data, but there are precautions you can take to make your data difficult to steal. If you’ve ever used the internet to handle financial matters, consider following these steps to increase your personal online defense measures.

Use Trustworthy Products

It’s important to keep in mind that all devices (computers, tablets, smartphones or any other gadgets with internet access) should be treated with the same safety precautions. Both hardware and software on all devices need to come from trustworthy sources and have safety precautions set in place to protect private information. If you handle any of your financial activity on your work devices, check to make sure your company has implemented secure unified communication products, such as those from 8×8, a cloud solutions company. These products utilize the cloud to keep information in one place that shares the same privacy measures across the board to maximize security.

Lock Down Hardware

Along with secure products, comes the importance of locking down your hardware. One measure you can start with is stocking your devices up with anti-malware software to make it more difficult for criminals to steal your personal information. If your devices were to become infected with malware, hackers could access your personal information and steal your identity or lock up your files while asking for ransom. Running antivirus programs, such as Kaspersky Internet Security, can allow you to stay ahead of thieves by detecting any security holes in your devices and reporting on suspicious behavior immediately.

Multi-factor security

Set up a two-factor authentication security process to help keep your personal information secure. Two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security to ensure you’re the only person who can access your information, because knowing your password alone is not enough to pass an authentication check, according to Search Security. When you log into websites or apps, you’ll have to go through a second step such as a fingerprint scan or PIN texted to another device in order to successfully log in. This practice is especially beneficial when using devices for the first time ever or if you haven’t used one in a while, to double check that your information hasn’t been stolen or accessed by someone else.

Secure your web browser

Because the web is where you interact with the digital world, it can leave a trail of footprints in your wake. To avoid leaving so many breadcrumbs for hackers to pick up on, take a few precautions to make your internet browser more secure. First things first, turn off third-party cookies, which allow advertisers to gather information about what sites you visit, what you buy, and what your interests are to push targeted ads based on your tendencies. Along with blocking cookies, start using secure passwords. As a rule of thumb, never keep default passwords from manufacturers as they can be easier to hack into. Instead, create strong passwords with at least twelve characters, a combination of letters, numbers and symbols and acronyms or phrases rather than full words, according to Cylab. On top of that, don’t use the same password for everything, especially when considering bank accounts, credit card apps or anything else that involves financial information. This way if one account does get hacked, there’s an increased chance that the rest of your accounts will be left unharmed.

Private Browsing

Similar to disallowing cookies, utilizing private browser options blocks advertisers from accessing your internet activity. More specifically, private browsing deletes cookies, temporary files and your browser history after you quit out of the browsing window. A lot of companies embed codes in banner ads as well to track your preferences and demographic information. To surf the internet anonymously, utilize these settings while shopping or using credit card apps to keep your financial activity private.

All in all, be smart about what information you provide on the internet and where you share it. Do some research to familiarize yourself with trending scams that others have fallen for to stay on top of the issue as well. If you have these suggested precautions set in place and are aware of current scams or hacks, you’ll be one step closer to keeping your private information exactly that: private.

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