Whether you’re reading the news, sharing photos with family and friends or researching your next vacation destination, information is being shared across the web. While browsing the internet, there are some basic measures you can take to protect your private information.
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Don’t click unfamiliar links
If you receive a link via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or other social network and you can’t tell where it goes, are unsure of who sent it to you and the accompanying text provides no clues (for example, “check this out”), don’t click the link. These links can access your e-mail or social networking accounts in order to send out spam messages under your name.
You may have seen an e-mail or website claiming to represent a known financial institution or government agency, asking for personal information such as your password, credit card information or bank account number. If the site doesn’t look legitimate, don’t submit any information.
Make sure the website is secure
If you are shopping online or requesting information via a form, it is critical to make sure that your browser has a secure connection to the website in question before proceeding.
You can usually tell if your browser is secure if you see a small lock icon on the browser bar where the website is listed. A secure connection encrypts your data so hackers and others can’t see it. Without a secure connection, your credit card information, phone number, Social Security number and other personal details are vulnerable to theft.
Get tough with your password
With so many website accounts, it can be difficult to keep track of all of your passwords — and make sure they are both easy to remember but difficult to guess. When in doubt, err on the side of the latter. A compromised account will cause more headaches down the road than will a couple of seconds spent trying to remember a password. Also, resist the urge to share passwords, even with loved ones.
Password-protect your devices
Most desktop and portable computing devices give you the option of requiring a password. While it may be tempting to dismiss this option — after all, it’s your machine and no one else is using it — a password can be a first line of defense against identity theft should somebody steal your device.
Share these lessons with younger users
Kids and teenagers are voracious users of the internet, both in and out of the classroom, and these tips apply to them, as well. By breeding good browsing habits at a young age, our children and students will grow up to be smarter, savvier web users.
What other measures do you take to keep your personal data safe on the web?