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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 May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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