5 Ways to Protect Your Data Online

There is no guarantee that your information and identity are completely safe online. The answer to keeping your data as safe as possible relies on you. As companies increasingly depend on digital data, it’s up to you to remain diligent and proactive to reduce risk. Here are four ways to keep your information as safe as possible.

1. Secure your network
In a matter of seconds, a cyber thief can gain access to anything you do over an unsecured network that isn’t protected by a password. If you look at the documentation for your wireless router, you’ll be able to find out how to lock your router and encrypt your information. It won’t affect the way you use your wireless network, but it will help keep intruders from getting a hold of your info.

2. Public computers and private information
Avoid using public computers for anything that requires you to submit sensitive information. There are thousands of risks, including a wayward employee installing a keystroke app that records everything you type into the computer during your session. If you absolutely have to use a public computer for a sensitive transaction, never store user names or passwords, make sure you log out completely from your account and clear the browsing history. If possible, shut down the computer when you are done.

3. Watch out for phishing
Identity thieves use phishing sites to obtain sensitive information by pretending to be a trusted site. You can set your computer to clear your cache and eliminate your online history and passwords you might have entered after each browser session. Phishing sites usually look suspicious; they might be missing images, information or features you’re used to seeing, or might request additional information you wouldn’t normally enter. If a site looks different than you’re used to, that’s a red flag. Make sure you’re not being asked for any information that you usually wouldn’t be required to provide to log in.

4. Don’t save passwords on sites
When your passwords are saved on a website, not only is your password information stored on their server, which could be vulnerable to cyberattack, there is also a record on your computer. An estimated 10 percent of all cybercrime is committed by someone you know, someone who browses over your shoulder while you are logging in or has access to your computer. If you have saved passwords, clear that sensitive data from each browser you have used and don’t select the option to save login information or passwords when browsing.

5. Be on guard against spam
Don’t open any emails that looks like spam. Not only are these messages often from phishers, but they can also contain viruses that can get into your computer and send your information back to hackers. If you have opened an email and realize it is not from anyone you know or a trusted site, don’t click anything within the email. Close it, mark it as spam, trash it and run anti-virus software.

If you take extra care online and when storing your personal information, and you can reduce the chance of your sensitive data becoming exposed.

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