Lifestyle / Gadgets

Protect Your Digital Self in a Few Minutes a Day

With the internet at our fingertips all day, every day, the threat of data breaches are constantly on the rise – making it more difficult to keep track and safeguard personal information from potential hackers

Apr 08, 2020 | By Julia Roxan

Remember the days when one password was all it took to make you feel safe and secure in your very own, cozy spaces in the digital world? Our passwords were often the names of our loved ones, with a few digits related to their birthdate tacked onto the end (if we were extra careful, that is). Of course, this wasn’t the case for everyone since there have always been more tech-savvy people around, but for most of us, that was all we needed.

Things have changed. Everything’s connected nowadays, even refrigerators and mirrors! With the internet at our fingertips all day, every day, we’re also hearing about data breaches from many of the websites that we use frequently, from social media to shopping.

This means that our perspective towards protecting our digital selves has to change. With a few minutes of awareness and practicing on the following tips every day, you’ll be more protected online and you’ll feel safer.

Privacy Settings – Read the Terms and Conditions

Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, to name but a few giants of the digital industry know a lot about you. We don’t just mean that they know your date of birth, address, and maybe where your mother was born and your first pet’s name, but they know a lot more! These businesses are all about big data. Over the years, they’ve developed algorithms to understand your behavior online. So, if you’re logged in to Facebook or Google, for example, and you’re browsing the web, they’re collecting data about you – your preferences, interests, search histories, time spent online, etc. Have you ever typed a message to a friend on WhatsApp and saw adverts about the very same thing you were talking about on Facebook an hour later? Read the privacy policy before you register on any website or platform and opt-out, where possible, from having your data used for targeted advertising, for example.

Use People Finder Sites

These days, we meet a lot of new people online. Yes, we meet them in the physical world, too, but many of us have made friends or clients online whom we’ve never met or even seen before. It’s good practice to make a point of using sites like Nuwber to access publicly available information about someone who you may be doing work with, or even considering getting into an online relationship of some kind with. This is especially useful if money (and feelings) are involved so that you’re able to protect yourself from becoming vulnerable in digital space. To keep yourself protected, you can too make use of people finder sites and stay informed about the people that you are meeting.

Create Strong Passwords

We spoke about passwords earlier in this post and we can’t emphasize enough how important a strong password is to protect your digital self. After all, it’s one of your first defenses against intrusion to any breach into your accounts. There are two factors to make sure of when creating a password for your accounts. The first is to create a strong password. You’ll notice that many sites now only allow you to use a password that includes at least one uppercase letter, a symbol, and a digit. The reason for this is that it makes it more difficult for hackers to decrypt a password with a stronger combination of letters, symbols, and digits. The second important factor to take note of is to vary your password between accounts. Yes, this can be more difficult for you to keep track of, but if one of your accounts is breached, this makes it easier for hackers. If they find accounts linked to the one that’s been compromised, then chances are that your other accounts are compromised, too. You can always use a password manager to keep track of all your passwords. It is also best to teach kids how to use the internet safely because they can access it from anywhere.

Update Your Software

Whether it’s your laptop, mobile phone, or tablet, always keep your software up to date. Sometimes we get a bit lazy or feel put out if we need to just let our devices do their thing and have the software updated, but make the sacrifice for those few minutes. Software updates help to make your device a little faster or offer you newer features or looks, but they also do something a lot more important than that. These software updates will patch your system’s weaknesses, in terms of security. When older versions of software have vulnerabilities, newer versions often make sure that this is fixed.

Back-Up Your Data on an External Hard Drive

Many of us have this fear of losing all our important files from our desktops or laptops. Look, it’s a valid fear to have, especially if your system crashes and the files are corrupted beyond retrieval. We’ve all got a lot of important data on our devices, from work files to memories that we’d be heartbroken to lose. Some of us use the cloud to back up our information. Remember, those are not always failsafe, either. Many cloud platforms have suffered breaches where hackers were able to access sensitive data of many users. Taking the time to back up your data onto an external hard drive, even once a week, is good practice to keep your digital self that much safer – in a somewhat more physical way, without being connected to the online network.

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