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7 Ways to Keep Your Information Safe on the Internet

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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.

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

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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