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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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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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