We live in an age of being connected at all times. It is rare to be in any public setting and not see people on their smart phones, tablets, or laptops. People can’t have a dinner out, go to a movie, or even sit in traffic without being “connected.” The scary thing is, all of this connection can leave you and your family vulnerable to identity theft, email scams, bulk mailing lists, and other types of intrusions that you want to be protected from.
It’s almost a necessity to have an email address or social media account in today’s world to be able to stay in touch. But what can you do to keep your identity, your online activity, and your family secure online? Here are some ways to fly under the radar in this digital era.
Keep Passwords Private
If you save your passwords on your computer for sites you frequently visit – like your online banking site, email, or social media, you are leaving yourself susceptible to hackers who can take your information and wreak havoc. If you often use your computer on public wireless access, make sure you have the proper firewalls in place to help keep hackers at bay. Don’t save your passwords for automatic entry – manually entering your password each time may be a little more time consuming, but it could save you a lot of headache.
Be Connected Without Over Sharing
Many people tend to over share on social media sites. They share every last detail of their lives, down to when they leave and come back from the house, and where they are going when they leave. It’s one thing to use social media to keep up with family and friends, but it’s another thing altogether to share so much that people feel like they live in your house. It also could leave you susceptible to robbers, break-ins, or even sexual predators who could track your routine. If you use social media, only share photos with those you know. You can lock down your Facebook account to be very secure, by only allowing those you are friends with to see things you post. You can also protect your Twitter and Instagram accounts the same way. Social media is one case where sharing less information is more.
Look Yourself Up
Have you ever searched your own name and city on Google? It’s a good way to see what others see when they search for you online. It’s also a way to check for identity theft, online fraud, or even if there is more information out there about you that you don’t want people to know. You may be shocked and a little alarmed at what you find. I remember an incident where I looked up a friend’s address on Google as I was driving to her home the next day, and found a Google Earth image of her home that pictured her young daughter out in the yard. They had no idea. Very unsettling, but it’s the age we live in!
Create a “Junk Account”
If you get lots of emails from retail stores, newsletters, and other info that you don’t want cluttering up your in box, create a junk mail email address to use when signing up for email offers, special contests, or other things where you aren’t required to give credit card info. You can also unsubscribe from ones you no longer read or have been signed up for due to third party purchases of email lists.
Are Smart Phones Really a Smart Idea?
I read a statistic from 2013 that said over 90% of adult Americans have or have used a smart phone. We already know that they are the most unsecured of digital devices, and many people could have their whole life turned upside down if theirs was lost or stolen – not just due to lost pictures, but because of the amount of personal info that many people store in their phones. With a single swipe, your email, bank account or social media could be used by someone not authorized to do so, and you would be prey to all sorts of unwanted activity.
The other concern with smart phones is that there is no internet filter, so kids and teens have access to thousands and thousands of porn sites in the palm of their hand. A dangerous thing, if you ask me. Think about if you and your family really need smart phones – you may find that you really don’t. Trade them in for a basic phone model that calls and sends text messages, and leave the internet on the computer, not in your purse.
These are just a few of the ways to fly under the digital radar. With these simple steps, you can lead a less connected (but probably more fulfilling) life!