Computer & Electronics

How to Protect Your Personal Information Online

Recent research from earlier this year found that the average American is spending 24 hours a week online, up from 9 hours a week in 2000. Part of this is due to us no longer spending hours on the internet just at home or at work, but also due to the constant connection we have via our smartphones. We are using the internet to play games, post on social media platforms, apply for jobs, look for apartments, communicate with the world, sell old belongings, purchase new belongings, and more. It's hard to even imagine living in a world without the internet.

The internet, of course, isn't only used for innocent tasks. There are people who would take advantage of your online presence given the chance. Think about how much you expose yourself on the internet, such as entering banking and credit card information, social security numbers, and even things as seemingly safe as sharing pictures on various websites. There are a few things that you can do to keep yourself and your identity safe, however. Follow these tips to protect yourself and loved ones.

protect personal information

Limit how much you share on social media.

The information you share on social media could easily end up in the hands of someone who is not your friend or family member. Check your privacy settings to make sure they are not set to "public." You can also limit information in your profile, such as your hometown, job history, education history, contact information, and more. Monitor your child's social media accounts as well.

Always use password protection.

Whether it's your smartphone, your tablet, or your laptop, engage the password protection feature so not just anyone can access it. Make sure you use strong passwords, with a variety of random letters, numbers, and symbols, for all of your online accounts so that hackers will have more difficulty breaching them. Ideally, you should have a different password for each account. You may want to use a password manager to keep track of them all.

Don't trust free Wi-Fi.

While free Wi-Fi feels like a cause for joy and celebration, it actually should be met with suspicion. Free Wi-Fi doesn't usually feature the best security, and countless strangers could be accessing it. Who knows how many are monitoring your online activity in the process? There are ways for people to use free Wi-Fi to see your credit card information when you're logged into the same network. Consider using a VPN if you do opt to use free, public Wi-Fi.

Close those old accounts you no longer use.

Since the dawn of the internet, you've probably been opening accounts online. How many old email addresses do you have but haven't used in years? How about old social media accounts or website accounts for different service providers? If any of them were to suffer a security breach, you could also fall victim. Do yourself a favor and devote some time today deleting those accounts.