5 Tips to Protect Your Privacy Online
As computers and networks have become more complex and connected, online privacy has become a major concern for private citizens and businesses alike. Whether you realize it or not, you leave a large footprint on the internet. If you doubt this fact, just Google your name.
Chances are you’ll find links to your Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn account and every other social networking site you belong to. If you’ve made any type of forum postings, the links for these may also show up. Every time you sign into a site with a user name and password, you run the chance of hackers intercepting this information and stealing your identity. Companies who use virtual networks to connect employees run the risk of having their information compromised.
So how can you protect your privacy online? Here are five tips to help you safeguard your privacy and not fall victim to internet or identity theft.
Don’t Assume Wi-Fi Hotspots are Secure
It seems wi-fi hotspots are everywhere today. Even McDonald’s offers free internet access in some towns. One of the most important tips is to not assume any wi-fi hotspot is secure.
Even if the URL starts with https://, the site may not be secure. Hackers have been known to set up fake hot spots just to gather information from users. Never access your bank account, social networking accounts, or any account you have to enter a user name and password to access. Once hackers have this information they can play havoc on your personal information and bank accounts.
Never Respond to Emails Asking for Your Password
E-Bay, Facebook, your bank, and other legitimate businesses will never ask for your password in an email. Identity thieves are very adept at creating emails which look just like the real thing. If you’re in doubt about an email, go to the original site and contact their support. Think about it this way, your information is stored at their site, why would they need to ask you for it in an email?
Change Your Passwords Often
Yes I know changing your passwords can be a major pain, but this is one tip that may save your online identity. Also never use the same password for all of your accounts. Once hackers and thieves have one of your passwords, they will try it on all of the sites they can find.
Sign Out of Your Accounts
Like changing your passwords often, this tip can be a pain. It is much easier to sign into a site and be logged in, but by doing this you are leaving yourself wide open for identity theft. Unless you are at home on your own private computer, and not connected to a network, sign out of your sessions when you are done.
Set Up a Virtual Privacy Network (VPN)
VPN’s not only protect your footprint on the internet, but they can also be powerful tools to protect your online privacy. By hiding the location of your computer and rotating the IP address you can make it hard for hackers to steal your information.
In addition to using these five simple steps, be smart about your internet use. Stick with websites you know are secure and don’t share your user names or passwords with anyone. Invest in a high quality VPN (or try out a free version first) and you can protect your identity and assets from the thieves and hackers who prowl the internet looking for victims.