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7 Ways to Keep Your Information Safe on the Internet

7 Ways to Keep Your Information Safe on the Internet
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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.

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

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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