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13 Things You Probably Aren’t Aware That Pose A Threat To Your Online Privacy

13 Things You Probably Aren’t Aware That Pose A Threat To Your Online Privacy

Tech news is continually abuzz with security warnings, hack updates, and consumer warnings. Malicious individuals can steal your identity, hijack your accounts, spend your funds, and discover sensitive personal data when you don’t keep your online activity in check. Enough is Enough, an Internet safety organization funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, posted statistics revealing that 15% of social media users in the U.S. have never checked their account privacy and security settings. Poor passwords, downloads, link clicking, and privacy setting awareness can make vulnerable to digital attacks. Here are 13 major signs that you aren’t browsing the Internet safely, and how to improve your privacy protection.

Lax Password Strategies

1. Weak Passwords

Avoid single word passwords like “password” or “login” because they can be easy to guess or crack with malicious software. Mix things up by using uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation, and phrases with a variety of words. You can also use apps like 1Password to generate scrambled passwords for you, so that you don’t have to rack your brain every time a password update is needed.

2. Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks

Without a password protecting your home Wi-Fi network, hackers can snoop on your online traffic and even pull data you enter into web pages, such passwords and credit card information. This became a concern for Tumblr app users in July 2013, when the company issued an update to address a security vulnerability that allowed cyber criminals to sniff out passwords over public Wi-Fi networks. Be sure to set up a secure password for your home Wi-Fi network.

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3. Strange Credit and Banking Activity

People who continually use weak or old passwords may discover that their financial accounts have been compromised. Contact your credit or banking institutions immediately if you notice unusual charges and update your password.

4. Hijacked Social Media

If your social media password is weak, then you might notice spammy posts appearing on your newsfeed or in your private messages. If you noticed unauthorized changes to your accounts or correspondences that you haven’t posted yourself, then change your password using the password security tips discussed at the beginning of this list.

Not Checking Links

5. Unfamiliar Websites

Microsoft describes how email phishing scams post as legitimate organizations to misdirect users into clicking links to malicious websites. Carefully examine the website address before you click a link.

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6. Spam pop-ups

Malicious links often take users to websites full of advertising. Diligently avoid strange links and use an in-browser advertising blocker, such as Ad Block, to prevent pop ups for slipping through.

7. Not Recognizing Malicious Websites

Some malicious websites look legitimate, which can sometimes make them difficult to detect. Some warning signs to watch out for include unusual URL components (like “TheFacebook” rather than “Facebook”), disjointed web layouts, a new or unusual company logo, unusually abundant advertising, and poor use of grammar.

8. Unfamiliar Sign-In Processes

Malicious sites sometimes pose as popular web services, such as Facebook, so that users will unwittingly provide their username or password in the sign-in form. Carefully examine the URL to make sure you’re visiting the correct website and avoid signing in if the web page layout or form questions seem unusual.

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9. Invasive Questionnaires

If you’re misdirected by a bad link, you might find yourself on a website posing as a legitimate organization asking for personal information. Close the page immediately if you are not 100% sure of the website’s authenticity.

Ignoring Privacy Settings

10. Unsolicited Communications

If you don’t restrict your personal contact information on social media, just about anyone can post on your profile, send you emails, or call you. To prevent unwanted communications, examine your social media privacy settings and restrict your public visibility.

11. Posts with Unusual URLs

Spam accounts that you’ve added as friends on social media might be able to post dangerous links on your feeds. This is why it is extremely important to friend people you know and avoid unrecognizable accounts. Avoid clicking on URLs that appear to be spelled incorrectly or contain scrambled letters and numbers.

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12. Friend Requests from Strangers

Privacy settings also control how you appear in public social media search listings. Your profile might be too easy to find if you start getting multiple friend requests from strangers. Avoid adding these strangers on platforms like Facebook, because then they’ll be able to view your photos, newsfeed, and other personal information.

13. Unauthorized Tags

You might discover that you’ve been tagged in social media images and conversations that you don’t wish to be associated with. You can request to verify tags on Facebook in advance.

Many people share far more than they intend to while browsing the Internet because they fail to protect their online accounts with strong passwords, privacy settings, and link-checking. You can become less vulnerable by rotating strong passwords on a regular basis, avoiding suspicious links, and taking an active role in customizing your security settings for online accounts. These periodic changes can go a long way in helping you protect your digital privacy.

Featured photo credit: Young man using tablet computer in coffee shop via shutterstock.com

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Larry Alton

Business Consultant

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Published on September 20, 2018

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

Minimizing Tabs

Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

Incognito Mode

Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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  1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
  2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
  3. Download extension New Incognito Window

This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

Save Webpages as PDF Files

Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

Open Recently-closed Tabs

Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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Solve Mathematical Problems

Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

Play Media Files

Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

Stay Focus(e)d

Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

Grammarly for Editing

Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

Loom

There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

Chrome Calendar Extension

No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

Final Thoughts

Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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