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Carma Project Blog

How to Protect Yourself Online

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.

Our Commitment to Your Safety

As technology becomes more present and necessary in our daily lives, companies are gaining access to more data than ever before. And with all the noise in our respective feeds increasing, it’s important that we gain a better understanding of how we consume and share information.

In an effort to be more transparent, we’ve launched a video series to answer some of our most frequently asked questions regarding privacy and automotive recalls. Check out the first two below:

Our main goal is to reach the millions of people who might be unaware they are driving around with a deadly Takata airbag. As we work to achieve this goal, we’re also striving to make our online and offline community a safer place. This is just the beginning--so stay tuned for more.

Ambassador Spotlight: Meet Bianca Ornelas

A couple of months ago, we partnered with Bianca Ornelas, an artist from California, to raise awareness about the Takata airbag recall. Along with teaming up with her to spread the word, we were also able to pick her brain about how her desire to help others influences her art, her favorite ways to raise awareness, and some projects she’s currently working on. Read on to check out the interview!

First off, can you tell us more about who you are, where you’re from and what you do?

Hello, my name is Bianca Ornelas, I’m from Pomona and I am a professional artist.

How does your desire to help others influence the art you create?

 As an artist, I feel like it is my duty to help inform others about current issues. My main source of inspiration comes from people, especially topics that directly impact others. I have the privilege to be able to create vibrate pieces and I will use it to my advantage. Nothing makes me happier than bringing awareness to others.

Why is raising awareness about the Takata airbag recall important to you?

Before working with the Carma Project, I’ve never heard about the Takata airbag recall. Knowing that there are 41 million vehicles with a deadly Takata airbag, has made me really nervous. Knowing that someone I know might have one in their car has made this issue very personal. This is an important issue that many are unaware about. By spreading the word about this recall (we? I?) can save a life and that itself is very important to me.

Would you tell your friends and family about the recall?

I would spread the word about the Takata recall. It is important for them to check if their car is safe!

What are your favorite ways to raise awareness about issues that are important to you?

I mainly use social media to raise awareness about important issues. My favorite way to bring attention to certain issues is by using my art. I create pieces that provide a platform for conversation. It is only until then real awareness is raised. 

What are some projects you’re currently working on at the moment?

 I’m working on many projects! On top of running two online shops, I am teaming up with a non profit organization called The Dream Complex, for a huge block party in Los Angeles. I am doing a couple of freelance work and illustrations for companies. Lastly, I am discreetly co-writing a comic with another talented artist.

Where else can we find you?

You can find me on my Instagram at bianca.ornelas. You can also find my work on Facebook at Bianca Ornelas Art

Back to School Safety: College Edition

College for many is an exciting journey, but can also be a stressful time that could create a wide range of mental health challenges. According to the American Psychological Association, 1 in 3 first-year college students will struggle with mental health. It’s important that throughout their college experience, students learn to prioritize both their mental and physical wellness.

As part of our ongoing commitment to support and protect our community, we put together some tips on how to practice good safety habits. We’re also hosting a special giveaway this month, so scroll on to learn more.

Raise your hand. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or depressed, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Many college campuses provide resources like counselors and health centers. If you’re unsure if your campus has one, check on your college’s website or with your RA. You can also chat, text, or email with a counselor at Your Life Your Voice.

Mind your gut. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences mood, and millions of other mood shaping microbes live in the digestive tract. So it’s a no brainer that your diet can influence your mental state immensely. In fact, studies show that foods rich in vitamin B, magnesium, probiotics, vitamin D3, and omega-3s can help manage depression. Try to incorporate these foods into at least one meal a day.

Action plan. Physical activity not only reinforces physical wellness, but also helps improve your mood. According to NCBI, exercising regularly can reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, protect the brain against cognitive decline, improve sleep, and boost serotonin levels. Hit your school gym, and whenever possible, take the stairs or even walk the long way to your classes.

Point of contact. Socializing and cultivating relationships can have healthy outcomes on your mental health and life span. In fact, studies on social relationships and health show that people with active social lives tend to live longer and healthier lives than their isolated peers. So try to eat meals with friends, and consider joining on or off-campus organizations related to hobbies or causes you care about.

Good looking out. Whether you’re riding in your friend’s car or they’re riding in yours, it’s important to make sure the vehicle doesn’t have any outstanding safety recalls. For example, a recalled Takata airbag can seriously injure or kill not just a driver, but also their passenger. Check your vehicles with our lookup tool to make sure you’re safe no matter what vehicle you’re in.

Enter the gap. Studies show that practicing mindfulness through meditation can reduce negative thoughts and stress. Meditation also helps develop capacities for calmness, clarity, and concentration. Don’t know where to start on your meditation journey? Try Headspace, an award-winning meditation app and a great introduction to practicing meditation and mindfulness.

In fact, for our Back to School Giveaway this year, Carma will be awarding a one-year subscription to the Headspace app. To enter to win you must complete the following:

  1. Sign up or be an existing Carma Project ambassador
  2. Tag your friends in the comments section of Carma’s Back to School Facebook post here

Contest closes on October 1st at 12:00 PM PST. Winner will be emailed on October 2nd.
*To enter this contest, you must be signed up as an Ambassador at, be 18 years or older, and live in the United States. This contest is void where prohibited by law. The name on your Carma Project ambassador profile must match the name on your Facebook profile in order for your entry to be accepted. The contest prize will be delivered via email. This contest is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with Headspace, Instagram, and/or Facebook.*

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