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7 Ways to Keep Your Information Safe on the Internet

7 Ways to Keep Your Information Safe on the Internet

It’s almost unavoidable to buy products online or give our personal information to trusted websites. Unfortunately, that information isn’t always safe and criminals could easily access sensitive knowledge about you. To help, we’ve made a guide for regular people who don’t have time to develop a deeper understanding about wireless networks, yet still need to protect their data over wireless channels.

1. Be Safe on Social Media

Social media may seem like a safe place to share some of the more intimate details of your life, but you should be vigilant about what you post on these networks. Even seemingly innocuous information, like your birthday or address, can be used by criminals for more dangerous applications.

To avoid this, personalize the security settings in your social network accounts. If you share a post with personally identifiable information (PII), make sure to only select trusted individuals who can see it. Additionally, be wary of anyone you don’t know in real life making appeals to you for such PII.

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2. Protect Your Credit Cards

When making purchases online, always be sure that the website you enter your credit card information into is secure. The URL should begin with “HTTPS”, not simply “HTTP”. Don’t make purchases on an unsecured network, such as that at a coffee shop, and remember to logout of your customer account when using public devices.

To be extra careful, load a prepaid credit card with limited funds for online purchases. This reduces the risk in case someone steals your information.

3. Use the Cloud for Back-Ups

Backing your important files up is essential in case your devices are ever stolen. Over the years, cloud computing has become more secure, as large technology firms like Amazon and Microsoft take control of the market. Even hospitals and healthcares have started using clouds for data storage, easy access of files and to secure confidential documents.

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A common example is Gmail and Google Drive, where you can upload the files and access them from anywhere in the world. The only requirement is a working internet connection; that isn’t hard to find these days. Moreover we can secure files with user-based or group-based permission. This is the future of backing up digital files on the clouds.

4. Factory Reset and Drive Wiping

More often than not, simply “deleting” something from your computer or mobile device will not permanently remove the information from the machine. Before you sell or throw away your old machine, make sure that the drives are fully wiped and that the machine is given a factory reset.

Without this extra step, whoever gets your device next will have access to even the most secured information on your machine, including files you previously thought were deleted.

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5. Disable Bluetooth and WiFi When Not in Use

Whenever you’re not using the Bluetooth or WiFi capabilities of your computer or mobile device, be sure to turn them off. If you don’t take this precaution, other devices in the vicinity may be able to gain access to yours; including access to open file sharing networks. For this reason, your network sharing settings should always be set to only share files with other trusted devices you own.

6. Password Protection

Many sites these days require you to have a complex password before signing up, and while this may appear to be an inconvenience at first, it’s really in your best interest. Passwords should be impossible to guess by family and friends, which mean you shouldn’t use birthdays, anniversary dates, family member names, or other obvious identifying information.

Ideally, everyone would use a random password generator, and have those random passwords saved on a secure and encrypted file on their computer. Since that may be a bit extreme for most internet users, just be sure to use different passwords for all important accounts (bank, email, etc.). Additionally, don’t use accurate information for password recovery questions like your mother’s maiden name, as these details are easy to get for the right cyber criminal.

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7. 2-Step Authentication

Large, trustworthy companies like Google, Facebook, Paypal and more all offer 2-step authentication, which forces users to enter a code sent to their mobile device in order to sign in. Other companies will ask for your mobile phone number or an alternative email address, so if someone attempts to log into your account from an unknown device, a message is sent to you requiring additional verification.

Both of these methods offer extra security for your sensitive information, whether it be financial or personal. If your social media or ecommerce site asks for additional identifying information like this so they can verify your account against strange login attempts, always opt in. You will get warnings of suspicious activity, and the ability to change your information if it ever becomes compromised.

We hope you’ve finished this article with a deeper understanding of online and wireless security. It’s never too late, or too early, to start protecting yourself online. Remember that even small details can be used to steal your identity or worse.

Featured photo credit: Safe on the Internet via lifehack.org

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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