By Dennis McKonkie
In the world we live in today, technology is inescapable. We are surrounded by computers, phones, and video games. Internet connection has become a necessity in almost every American’s life. Data reports show we are spending an average of 7 hours online each day, half of which is spent on your mobile devices. That adds up to more than 100 days online each year, making up 27 percent of your yearly time spent. Additionally, these numbers have increased from the previous years. A total of 366 million new users have surfaced since 2018, growing at a rate of more than 11 new users per second. This being said- protecting your privacy is more important than ever when accessing the wonders of the internet.
Never Use Public Wi-Fi Hotspots
Any data sent through public Wi-Fi is at risk for potentially exposing your identity, personal information, and digital property. Any person connected to the same network will have access to your online activity, leaving you vulnerable to a cyber attack. In a recent survey, 70 percent of tablet owners and 53 percent of mobile phone owners stated they do in fact use public Wi-Fi hotspots. If you must connect to a public Wi-Fi make sure to limit the use of sensitive data such as passwords, bank information, logins, etc. Using a VPN service is also recommended to encrypt your data and activity, there are a number of services available but many do cost a fee.
Passwords are Important
Always keep a password attached to any device that connects to the internet. If you lose your phone or it ends up in the wrong hands your information will still be protected. Locking your devices will ensure your protection in even the worst-case scenario. It’s also extremely important to create a strong and unique password for all of your accounts. If you use the same password for all of your accounts, a single breach could open the door to a flood of hackers. A password manager is recommended to keep track of your different logins, some smartphones come with this feature already equipped!
Safe Social Media Use
The first step in keeping your social accounts protected is checking the privacy settings on each platform. These networks know mass amounts of information about you, which by default can be visible to anyone with access to the internet. For example, Twitter and Instagram are either public or private but Facebook allows you to have a hand in who sees everything that you post. Privacy settings can be accessed through your profile but the University of Texas has a great resource to help lock down your accounts. If you prefer an open account then you should take extra precaution and really evaluate what you post. If you are worried about your identity being stolen, provide less personal information on these accounts. Limit how often you are checking in to places or posting details that could be used against you.
Erase Unused Accounts
If there are any old accounts you have opened up over time but never used, you should delete or deactivate them immediately. Leaving these accounts open puts any personal information stored at risk of falling into the hands of a hacker. You are also less likely to be aware of a breach due to the lack of use and activity. For example, an old email may hold personal documents that could give access to your identity. It’s important to erase any unnecessary personal data the internet holds. This guide gives you tips and direction to remove as much of your personal information from the internet as possible.
Where to Store Your Data
Use of a cloud server could be an ideal solution for keeping your backed up data protected. The data is not stored on a local device rather an offsite provider, securing your data in case of a security breach. Rather than saving all of your important information, on your computer, it’s best to safely store data using cloud security in case of a breach. If someone is able to hack your device they have access to everything stored in the hard drive, giving them access to any private information you have stored. With technology advancing rapidly, security risks are becoming more common, but using a cloud server will give you an ease of mind while using your devices.