Protecting Your Internet Activities and Electronic Data

The internet makes it easier than ever to get what you want when you want it. You can check your bank account, pay your bills, make investments, and go shopping.

It's like you're walking around with your whole financial life in your back pocket.

So beyond just locking your phone and laptop, what can you do to guard the vault? Here's an overview of the latest security practices to protect yourself and your data.

Use strong passwords

Here are some best practices for strong passwords. Use them everywhere you go online:

  • Never use “password,” “123456,” “abcdef,” your user name, your real name, your address, or just a four-digit number.
  • Use at least six to eight characters.
  • Mix upper and lower case letters, and numbers.
  • Use special characters (#, $, ^, &,!,?, {, >, etc.).
  • Don't use words that can be found in a dictionary.
  • Use a different password for every account you log on to.

Play it safe when you go online

When and where you connect to the Internet can affect how safe you are. Keep the following in mind wherever you may find yourself:

  • Look for the lock icon and the "s" in "https://" in the address bar of your browser when you’re logging on to your accounts. These two things mean that the site you’re using is secure.
  • Avoid using public computers for any private or financial matters. Your activity could be recorded by the computer.
  • Refrain from connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Any information that passes through them can be recorded. They’re not a great place to check your bank account.

Watch out for common scams

The Internet is happy hunting grounds for scammers. To avoid being an easy mark, watch out for the following:

  • Low-priced auction items – When you bid online at a price that’s too good to be true, consider whether your auction item will arrive as described, or if it will ever arrive.
  • Advance payments – If you start corresponding with someone who says you’ve won a foreign lottery, or that you’re inheriting money from a faraway prince, they’ll ask you for payments that you need to make in order to receive your funds. They may also ask you to deposit fraudulent checks, unbeknownst to you.
  • Suspicious links – Phishing emails trick you into clicking on a link. It leads you to a fraudulent website that looks official. There, you’ll enter your personal information which will be collected by identity thieves.
  • Hot stocks – Before making any investment, you should do extensive research on the company to make sure it's legitimate, and speak to a financial advisor.

Destroy your data when you upgrade devices

Once you've used a mobile device or a computer for any amount of time, there's a treasure trove of your personal information stored on it. You'll think that you've deleted it, and for most people, it's inaccessible. But it's still stored in the memory. Anyone with the right equipment can see everything that you've ever deleted.

There are two things you can do about this:

  • Reformat the hard drive – If you plan to resell or recycle your old devices, reinstall the system hardware to return the device to its factory conditions. This should destroy your old data.
  • Destroy the hard drive – Remove it from your phone or computer and smash it. This will render your data unrecoverable.

Be careful

The Internet has made our lives easier, but it's also made it easier for scammers to take advantage of us. So definitely lock your phone and computer, and then always play it safe online. Use a strong password, browse safely, watch out for scammers, and keep your data trail clean. That way you can avoid being a victim.

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