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11 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online

11 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online

Protecting your privacy online is harder now than ever. Whether it is “Big Brother” or “Big Data,” it seems everyone wants to collect as much data as possible on every human on Earth. We are all being tracked all the time. For some, this may seem like an inevitable fact of digital life. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself online and at the very least become much less of a target for cyber criminals and marauding bands of internet marketers.

1. Lock down your social media.

Most people signup for a Facebook account and just start using it. When someone invites them to play a game or join a group, they just click the button to give those apps authorization to access and use their account information, their list of friends, etc. This data is later used by companies to create network graphs of all of the relationships a person has with others.

Our suggestions:

  • Use privacy controls in your Facebook settings.
  • Pay close attention to which “apps” you give permission to use your information.
  • Read through the many settings and options. It is worth taking 10 minutes to read each one on Facebook.
  • Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIN and others all have privacy and security settings. Take advantage of them.

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.50.22 AM

    2. Use a secure browser.

    Unfortunately, Microsoft has consistently shown that it is a favorite target of hackers. Use an alternative browser to Internet Explorer. Safari, Firefox, and Google Chrome are all better choices. Whichever browser you are using, also look into its security menu, extensions and privacy (in Safari) and set the security choices you are comfortable with.

    Our suggestions:

    • Block pop-up windows by default.
    • Warn when visiting fraudulent websites.
    • Block cookies and website data from third parties and advertisers.
    • “Do Not Track” should be selected.

    Remember, this will NOT protect you from all of the techniques that are used to track you with a web browser, but it is MUCH better than letting even the sloppiest of advertisers and companies track your every move.

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    3. Protect the data on your mobile phone.

    If you want full protection, choose an iPhone from Apple. 99% of all mobile malware is on the Android platform. 92% of all Android phones are susceptible to known attacks. The Apps marketplaces for Android are wide open and filled with malware, spyware and viruses. Apple has been criticized for being very strict in their review and quality control of Apps that are allowed to be installed on an iPhone, but this has created the safest mobile environment that exists.

    Additionally, Apple just announced even more privacy features in iOS 8 due out this fall. This includes a security tool that stops Apps from tracking your GPS location unless you are actively using the App. Their iMessages App is extremely secure. Even the NSA doesn’t like it. Also, they have deployed the first, highly reliable, and very secure biometric thumbprint scanner. This last week they also announced they would allow developers to start implementing using your thumbprint for authentication of various secure logins and more.

    4. Be cautious of the word “FREE” in software, apps, and services.

    Like your momma told you, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. People have clamored to get their hands on many “free” online tools and services without asking a simple question, “If this is ‘free,’ how do they pay for all the people and computers that make this service work?” The answer is that they are most likely selling YOU. Unfortunately, there is no simple way to easily tell which apps are tracking everything you do on your mobile device or computer. The best advice is to delete apps you don’t really use regularly and ALWAYS read the warnings that ask for your permission to let the software do something.

    Recently, Google and Facebook both added features to let them use your microphone and camera on your computer or mobile device. While they could use your mic and camera for only legitimate reasons, consider turning off their access when you don’t absolutely need those apps to have it. For example, you can easily allows/disallow access to your “Location Services” on an iPhone or iPad, quickly turning it on for the Maps app when you need directions.

    Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.50.15 AM

      5. Develop a password strategy.

      Passwords have become a pain in the butt for many people. Forgetting a password when you need to get into something is a serious inconvenience, especially when so many different password policies exist. One simple solution is to come up with a PHRASE instead of a word or character string. Instead of “Bobby1989” try using “Bobby was born in 1989!” These will often be easier to remember and much harder to crack. Note that it even uses a special character “!”, upper case letters, lower case letters and numbers.

      An additional strategy is to develop some system for using a slightly different variation of your main password on every site you use it on. For example, you could use the same phrase, “Bobby was born in 1989!” on Hotmail.com and count the number of characters in the website domain name (7) and choose the first and last letters of the name (HL) and append that to your phrase “Bobby was born in 1989!7HL” On Chase.com that would be “Bobby was born in 1989!5CE”.

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      An attacker would need to gain access to several of your different passwords to figure out what additional pattern you use to change it from site to site.

      A tool to check the strength of your passwords is at: http://www.passwordmeter.com

      6. Change your IP address with a tool like ICLOAK™ Stik.

      ICLOAK Stik is a USB device that renders your web browsing sessions invisible to everyone on the Internet. The same device also automatically spoofs your Machine Address Code (MAC) of the computer you are using ICLOAK on so that it doesn’t broadcast this identifier to every website you visit. You can learn more at https://icloak.org

      7. Use a VPN service to connect to the Internet.

      A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can encrypt all of your web traffic from your computer to the destination site making it very unlikely for anyone to intercept your information as it will all be encrypted as soon as it leaves your browser. There are many VPN services available at a nominal cost to use them.

      8. Learn about and use Crypto Currency, like Bitcoin.

      Although Bitcoin is still a young technology, it has the potential to really allow individuals to make anonymous purchases online. Every time you use a credit card, there is a digital footprint made by that transaction. With crypto-currencies, they can be used anonymously.

      Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 10.50.02 AM

        9. Encrypt your email and files that you send across the Internet with GnuPG.

        GnuPG is the GNU project’s complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard. You can find more information including free software tools here: https://www.gnupg.org/related_software/frontends.html

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        10. Pay in cash more often.

        We have all become accustomed to the convenience of paying with plastic. However, this is becoming more and more dangerous as card thieves have discovered ingenious ways to get and use your cards. Alternatively, use the features provided by some major banks that will issue temporary, unique Credit Card numbers for a single online transaction. At Chase they are called Single Use Accounts.

        You can learn more here:

        Chase Bank

        https://www.chase.com/commercial-bank/treasury-management/single-use-accounts

        Bank of America

        https://www.bankofamerica.com/privacy/accounts-cards/shopsafe.go

        Citi

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        https://www.citibank.com/us/cards/gen-content/messages/van/index.htm

        11. Keep your antivirus software updated.

        The Internet’s viruses are similar to real viruses in that they are always changing and adapting. The best thing that you can do to prevent an attack on your computer is to keep your antivirus software updated. There are several free antivirus solutions available; however, the one I have found most recommended by IT pro’s like Eric B. Delisle is the antivirus solution produced by Kaspersky Labs. You can find more about them at: http://usa.kaspersky.com

         

        As a final note, there are passionate people working every day to guard against ever encroaching government and business interests into our personal lives. However, their jobs are made harder by ordinary people who are just too lazy to bother doing even the simplest things to keep themselves safe. Don’t be an easy victim of anyone who would ignore your right to your own data and your own privacy by ignoring these great tips. Instead, commit to giving yourself 30 minutes each day for a week to implement some of these suggestions and at the end of one week, you will be infinitely safer.

        It is a known fact that by simply placing a FAKE “This property is protected by a monitored alarm system” sticker on your window or one of those Brinks signs in your yard, that the average, neighborhood burglar will simply skip your house and go to your neighbor who didn’t bother to do something so simple as put a sticker on their window.

        You have been warned. Good luck.

        Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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        Published on November 9, 2018

        How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

        How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

        Technology has taken the business world by storm. People and businesses are progressively reliant on technology world these days. As a result, the people with impressive knowledge and experience with a computer are in demand.

        Considering this growing market trend, if you too wish to bag a profitable job, this article is apt for you. Here, we will dig deeper into the business and technology world to look into what are the best computer skills one should invest in and what resources to get help from.

        So, are you ready? Here we begin.

        6 Most-In Demand Computer Skills This Year (and Beyond)

        When talking about computer skills, following are the 6 computer skills that can fill your mailbox with endless job opportunities (besides, having an English and Hindi typing speed of 40+ WPM):-

        1. Spreadsheets and Databases

        Considering the treasure trove of data companies are handling these days, Spreadsheet and Database management skill tops the list. It is considered the most wanted job skill in the market, with a salary of around $53,129/yr for an entry-level position. However, the spreadsheet skill does not confine to auditing data from cells.

        To get hired based on this computer skill, you need to become a Spreadsheet ninja. From storing data to organizing them, applying complex mathematics formulas, and creating complex macros, you need to be an expert at all.

        In other words, you need to have an expertise at working with:

        • Microsoft Excel
        • Microsoft Access
        • Statistics
        • Data Analytics
        • Adobe Campaign
        • Quickbooks
        • XML Database management system
        • Filemaker Pro
        • MATLAB
        • Hive
        • FORTRAN
        • RDBMS (Relational Database Management System)
        • SAS

        2. Social Media, Email, and Blogging

        Though people are socially active, not everyone knows how to use the social media tools on the professional front. In such a scenario, having an expertise at writing engaging yet professional emails, writing blogs, and managing social media activities is a ticket to entry in reputed organizations.

        Some of the skills related to social media, email and blogging that will have a leg up in the hiring process are:

        • Content Management System (CMS)
        • Google Analytics
        • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
        • Email Marketing
        • Web Page Design
        • WordPress
        • Digital Media
        • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
        • Campaign Management Software

        3. Graphic Design and Word Processing

        A solid grasp of skills to present the gained information in the much readable form is another market need. When considering this computer skill category, you need to enhance your skills at:

        • Adobe Photoshop
        • Adobe InDesign
        • Adobe Illustrator
        • AutoCAD
        • CorelDRAW
        • Microsoft Visual Studio
        • Maya
        • Microsoft Word
        • Microsoft Publisher
        • Operating Digital Cameras

        4. Software and Hardware Design and Development

        The Software and Hardware development, in simpler language, means designing, implementing, and testing the computer software/hardware applications. It is the most profitable computer skill, with a different job opening, including Software Architect, Software Analyst, Software programmer, Hardware configuration, etc.

        To be capable of developing and testing the software and hardware, you need to peruse your users’ needs and build an application that hits their pain points. You need to work with different web and mobile app coding languages for gaining the attention of your audience, some of which are:

        • HTML
        • C/C++
        • Java
        • Python
        • XML
        • UI/UX
        • LINUX
        • CISC and RISC architecture
        • Embedded Processor Hardware Design
        • Memory Management
        • PCB Layout
        • SQL

        5. IT Troubleshooting

        Working on computers is one thing and having a knack of looking into the associated issues and resolving them in real-time is another. There are various employees and graduates who work with computer systems in their daily lives, but get confused when it comes to dealing with frozen programs and performing routine maintenance.

        So, if you are familiar with the basic anatomy of computers and machines and know the tricks to perform such tasks to streamline the working process, enter the IT support arena. The prime IT troubleshooting skills one needs to work upon are:

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        • Backup management
        • Diagnostics
        • End User support
        • Client-Server management
        • Installation and configuration
        • Issue tracking system (ITS)
        • System administration
        • Tech support

        6. Enterprise Systems

        Many Enterprises have their own enterprise solutions like PeopleSoft for managing their data and operations.

        Becoming a master at using the enterprise solutions mentioned in their ‘Requirements’ area can also lessen the barrier to get a job.

        The Roadmap to Excel Your Computer Skills

        Now that you know the 6 most popular computer skills in the market, the first decision, you need to take is which computer skill you want to work upon. All the skills are equally considerable for making a career ahead. So, choose one as per your interest.

        Once done, look forward to the following resources for boosting your computer skills and getting a reputed, handsome job.

        Depending on the computer skill you opt, here are the online courses you can turn to for elevating your career opportunities:

        1. Become a Spreadsheet and Database Ninja

        a. Microsoft Excel Training Online Course – Basic & Advanced

        Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert at working with spreadsheets, this online course has something new for everyone to become excel efficient users.

        Divided into 48 interesting lessons, the course empowers you to learn the technique of using mathematical, statistical, logical and text functions, sorting and filtering the data, creating Pivot Tables, building macros, finding a value with VLOOKUp, and much more.

        b. Excel- Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials on Lynda

        This is another impressive course to unlock the power of Excel. Designed for people from all walks of life and familiarity with Excel tools. This course helps you gain in-depth knowledge from the experts about this data-analyzing tool and make the magic in spreadsheet creation and management process.

        c. SQL & Database Design A-Z™: Learn MS SQL Server + PostgreSQL

        Build a successful career in the data analytics world with this online course.

        Revolving around the two top databases, MS SQL and PostgreSQL, this course will give you a comprehensive knowledge of the working of the databases and understanding of all the related elements, including how to create, update, organize, and safeguard the data.

        2. Rule the Social Media World

        a. Free Social Media Course by HubSpot

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        Introduced by the top experienced inbound professors from Hubspot, here you will get a comprehensive knowledge of Social media marketing.

        From understanding how to build relationships on different social media platforms to creating a perfect strategy to engage them, leveraging the benefits of social advertising, and analyzing your social media ROI, this course will bring out the best out of you.

        b. Write Professional Emails in English by Coursera

        This online course will be the right weapon to look into the differences and similarities between different email styles, improve your English writing skills, write effective subject lines, maintain the formality tone in emails, and more to make a powerful impact on the receivers with your email.

        c. Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery

        Founded by Udemy, this online course will excel your skills to build a masterpiece everytime you write.

        Here, you will get the guidance from the editors of the top newspapers and websites, and understand what kind of words and tone to use for leaving a spellbinding impact on the readers.

        3. Launch Your Own Software or Hardware Equipment

        a. Hardware and Software Courses by Coursera

        From Big Data to IoT, Sensor Circuit Design, Embedded Software and Hardware Architecture, and Motor Control Circuit, this course will give you a glimpse of all the hardware devices, equipment, and programming languages to build wonders.

        b. Free Software and Web Development Certifications Online by Alison

        Become the software developer market demands with Alison’s Java, C#, Python, R, PHP, or MySQL database course. From backend to frontend development and software testing.

        The course helps you to learn how to design, develop and test software and working in a team while contributing to the team success.

        c. Free Online Software Development and MOOCs Course by Class Central

        The Class Central online course will make you a master of software development. Here, you will learn the basic concepts of development like Agile, Design Patterns, and Version Control with Git, along with gaining experience of working with the top programming languages.

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        4. Live and Breathe Creativity

        a. Udemy: Introduction to Graphic Design

        It is a top-rated program for the new learners and designers to explore the Graphic Design world.

        From the history of communication to the design principles, the course will help the students to learn everything specifically and implement in the real world.

        b. Canva Design School

        From a beginner to advanced level, this course will provide you with an elaborated and comprehensive knowledge of graphic design. In the form of 4 modules, this course will help the interested graphic designers to try out their skills at Graphics, ranging from fonts to colors, backgrounds, images, shapes, and layouts.

        c. Microsoft Word – Basic & Advanced

        62 personalized lessons, premium video tutorials, and unlimited tests and quizzes – this certified course has everything that will make your entry to the business world easier.

        d. Microsoft Office: Word, Excel and Access Productivity Bundle

        The course will make you productive in Word, Excel, and Access through video lectures, articles, and various other supplemental resources.

        Besides, it will offer you exclusive tips and tricks to enhance your skills at using Microsoft office.

        5. Raise Your Reflexes to IT Troubleshooting

        a. IT Troubleshooting Skill Training by Udemy

        IT Troubleshooting Skill Training will upgrade your logical concepts over technical components to find and repair faults.

        It will provide you with a methodological approach to learn the basics of troubleshooting, practice them via exercises and drills, and enhance your IT troubleshooting intelligence.

        b. IT Help Desk Online Course on Lynda

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        The Lynda’s IT troubleshooting online course will train you how to respond to the issues related to Windows 10, Office 365, JIRA software, and more, from a local as well as a remote location.

        Mobile Apps and Websites to Enhance Computer Skills

        The aforementioned online courses will undoubtedly train you for a successful career ahead. But, in case you want a long-term support, turn towards the following websites and mobile apps:

        • Duolingo – Duolingo app will improve your spoken and written communication skills in different languages. With the magic of gamification added to the study, the app will make learning a fun and addictive task.
        • Hemingway – Hemingway app defines the length, complexity, and common errors associated with the sentences. In this way, it helps you to write effectively and go ahead in the career.
        • Udemy – The Udemy, with its 2000+ courses, is a great platform to master new skills, advance your career and explore the newer technologies and programming languages. Enrol a course as per your budget and make a brighter future.
        • eDX – eDX is yet another commendable platform you can look forward to. The platform offers you the best of the tutorials prepared by the business professionals and technology experts, ensuring a great boost in your computer skills.
        • Excel Easy – Excel Easy, as the name depicts, will make working with Excel easier for you via their detailed tutorials and 300+ real-life examples.
        • GCF LearnFree.org – It is a one-stop platform for accelerating your future in the computer world. From graphic design to Microsoft Office, resume writing, enhancing adaptability, and much more, the top experts will guide you with everything on this platform.
        • QuarkXPress – The QuarkXPress will aid you to add soul to your design with its unparalleled collection of font style, size, and typography. The best part is that it is avails all the options in different languages, including English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian to name a few.

        Bonus: Tips to Accelerate Your Approach For a Better Career Ahead

        Though these resources will make you stand out from the crowd and get hired at once, you need to focus on various other things, such as:

        1. Practice, Practice, Practice

        It is common to forget what we learn. To ensure that you do not miss any opportunity just because you forgot, keep practising.

        Make it your routine. Polish your computer skills and you will surely end up getting an offer letter from a recognized firm.

        2. Work on Your Efficiency

        Remembering what you learned is not enough; practice to enhance those skills to do better.

        For example, if you take around 50 minutes to create a design, target for 40 minutes.

        3. Look for Shortcuts

        Smart work rules over hard work more often. So, look forward to learning shortcuts to do any task. This will increase your chances to crack an interview and get selected.

        4. Apply for an Internship

        Last but not the least, apply for an internship to see what’s trending in the market and how much you are ready for it. While doing an internship, pay attention to your weak points and work on them. This will ensure a success when you apply for your dream job.

        By the late, it’s never too late to be an intern or grab whatever opportunity to learn something new! Here’s how:

        How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

        The Bottom Line

        Seeing the current market scenario, it is evident that having computer skills is a boon for a better career ahead.

        So, rather than struggling with thousands of other things and trying to crack interviews, focus on the computer skills mentioned in this article. Utilize the resources and experts’ tips shared and look forward to having a successful and prosperous future.

        Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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