As of the first quarter of 2021, Facebook reported that they have roughly 2.85 billion active users worldwide. All these people have their names, photos, contact information, and other personal details available online. That is for Facebook alone; there are a host of other social media apps that are made available for everyone to express themselves, promote their businesses, or simply re-connect with families and friends. And all these apps require that you provide at least your name, age, and a contact number or email address. These are information we voluntarily submit to the worldwide web and very few of us truly understand how our information are used and stored. This can be potentially dangerous and quite honestly, help and assistance for online identity theft and other forms of abuse on personal data does not come as quickly as, say, a call for help to the police or the fire department.
How do we protect our personal information online?
I did a research on the most basic steps one could take to create a barrier between yourself and online predators and hackers. These are not fool-proof, though; you still need to remember that the less you post or share about your personal life online, the better for you and your family.
- Create “creative” and strong passwords.
- Don’t use your birthday, your address, the schools you attended, or your mother’s maiden name.
- Keep a list of your passwords in a separate notebook. I know it could be convenient to save it in a phone or tablet but these devices, when connected to the internet, become vulnerable to attacks too, so, don’t.
- Of course, never share your passwords with anyone and don’t save your passwords on shared devices.
- Don’t use the same passwords across multiple online accounts.
- While it is more convenient to keep one password for your emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and some other online app you use, it might not be the wisest decision. Hackers can easily figure out passwords and if they are able to hack one of yours, then they can easily attack the rest of your online accounts.
- When creating passwords, your objective is to protect yourself, and sometimes, that can be inconvenient. If you find it annoying to have to keep or remember several passwords, imagine how that can truly confuse or tire out a hacker.
- Create digital locks on your devices.
- Whatever type of hardware security your phone, tablet, or computer has, use it.
- Apple products now have face-recognition technology so that your phone or tablet knows when it’s you whose trying to access the device. I hope you take advantage of this feature because it helps a lot.
- When leaving your work desktop, lock it.
- Clean-up your browser history regularly.
- Always log-out of browsers.
- Clear your browsing histories.
- Clear your download histories.
- Empty your trash.
- HTTPS or bust.
- If the website does not show “https” in the address bar, leave right away.
- The “S” in HTTPS stands for secure which means that your activities, data, and other information you exchange through that website are protected or encrypted.
- Be wary of free or public wifi.
- Every wonder why your neighbor never assigns a password in his wifi network? Haha.
- Remember not to login to your personal accounts when connected to a public wifi. You never know how the source of that connection is using the network.
- Invest on good anti-virus.
- Just like you, your devices should be inoculated with anti-virus to make sure it does not suffer severe damages when attacked.
- Computer viruses mutate too! They find new ways to disguise themselves so they can easily intrude into your system. Updating your anti-virus helps you keep these viruses at bay.
- Pop-ups and warnings do not always have good intentions.
- Avoid clicking on pop-up windows offering freebies and discounts.
- These may contain viruses that could seep into your system and hack your information.
- Mind your Facebook activities .
- I don’t mean your interactions, comments, and likes but yes, it would also help that you keep these at a minimum and remember to always choose kindness.
- I meant those quick games you are enticed to play to see: how your baby would look like, you you would look like after 10 years, to find out what your name would be if you were a cast of Game of Thrones, and all those quizzes and face-recognition games that people come up with every now and then.
- These are third-party apps who might just be collecting personal data online. Every time you play their game, you allow them into your profile and all your personal information. Remove permissions from unnecessary games and apps.
- Mind your Facebook Privacy Settings
- Did you know that you can actually choose who among your friends can see what you post on your wall, can comment on your posts, and can see your tagged photos?
- If you still haven’t, visit your privacy settings and start updating! Not everyone needs to see what you post online.
- On the other hand, if you have to hide some stuff from some people, why not simply cut your connections (uhm, unfriend) and maybe even block them. It may sound harsh but it IS one way of protecting yourself online.
I will continue with the rest of the tips I found online tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’d like to invite you to share your personal tips or suggestions on how to protect personal data online.