How to Protect Yourself Online

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Technology can feel like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has innovated the way we live, communicate, and learn. On the other hand, putting so much of our lives online has exposed us to data-hungry scammers and hackers. The good news? There are steps you can take so that you can reap the great benefits of technology while protecting yourself online.

Two steps forward. Two-factor authentication (2FA), also known as two-step verification, protects your online accounts and data by adding a second layer of security. The most common two-step verification method is entering a password and then entering a code sent to your mobile phone to complete the log-in process. Most websites offer two-step verification and you can usually toggle this feature in the settings section of your account.

Code words. Ideally, your password should be hard to guess and contain capitals, special characters, and be unrelated to something someone may know about you (e.g: date of birth). You can even use a password manager that will store, generate, and remember passwords for you.

Lock it up. Along with your online accounts, you should also be protecting your home and office wireless networks with a strong password too. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be extra cautious about the information you share and make sure to connect with a VPN. Public Wi-Fi networks are generally less safe than private ones because you don’t know who set them up or who else might be connecting to them.

Stay up-to-date. Although it can be a bit of a hassle sometimes, it’s important to have the latest software, web browsers, and operating systems on your computers and mobile devices. Keeping your devices up to date is the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats. As a best practice, turn on automatic updates, so you can receive the latest fixes as they become available.

Step into the breach. Data breaches are scary, but they happen and it’s important to be aware of and proactive about then. You can check to see if you’ve been part of a data breach with this tool by Mozilla Firefox. In the event that your account has been part of a data breach, you should take necessary safety steps like changing your passwords and reviewing your financial records.