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14 Signs You’re Not Protecting Your Online Privacy

14 Signs You’re Not Protecting Your Online Privacy

Ever since the Edward Snowden incident people have been paying more attention to their online security. Unfortunately, things like security are a little tougher to straighten out than most of us think, and a good deal of us have already pretty much sent away our private information to the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and various other companies. Here are some of the signs that you’re giving away more than you probably intended to, as well as some tools to protect online privacy.

1. You haven’t disabled location services on your mobile device

Android and iOS both have a system built in that allows applications to poll your location when they need to. You may have noticed this before when you post to Facebook and it says “near there” where “there” is your city name. Pretty much any device on mobile networks can poll your location whenever it wants, so most of your apps (and their companies) know where you are.

How to fix: To turn this feature off on iOS, check out Apple’s location services support page because apparently the method changes depending on which version of iOS you have. For Android, simply navigate to the phone settings, go to Location, and turn off all of the options. Do note that if you need something like Foursquare, Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc. to work then you’ll need to temporarily turn these services back on.

2. You post all of your status updates to the public

protect online privacy

    When you post something on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter to the public then everyone can see it. I mean everyone. Your friends, your friends’ friends, people on other continents that you’ve never met, your bosses, and everyone else. It’s very likely that you’ve posted some stuff you didn’t intend everyone on the planet to see.

    How to fix: On Twitter, the only way to fix this is to make your whole profile private. On Facebook and Google+ it’s much easier. Whenever you open the box to post a status update you’ll see “Public.” Click on that and change it to anything other than public and your status updates will be safe from prying eyes.

    3. Your password is terrible

    A lot of people have terrible passwords. There are people out there who still use the word “password” as their password. Okay, let me level with you: when hackers hack passwords, anything that is only lower case letters and under ten characters long is fairly easy for the hackers to figure out. In other words, if your password is less than ten characters long and contains no capital letters, numbers, or symbols then you’re in trouble.

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    How to fix: This is an easy fix because you simply need to create a better password. The best passwords have letters, numbers, capital letters, and symbols. You don’t have to do anything ridiculous. Here is a surprisingly helpful article from Microsoft on how to create more challenging passwords.

    4. You don’t use a VPN when connected to public WiFi

    A VPN is a virtual private network. VPNs allow people to connect to the internet on a private network even when connected to local WiFi. Here’s why this is important. When you’re connected to public WiFi, people can sniff data packets going through the connection. Those packets can contain things like your passwords or other private information. When connected to a VPN, it makes it much harder to sniff your packets and thus keeps your data more secure.

    How to fix: Setting up a VPN is actually pretty easy and many companies offer their services to get you surfing safely. Here is an article about VPN services that actually protect your privacy.

    5. Your cookies are telling all of your secrets

    protect online privacy

      This is a pretty difficult problem to deal with because most websites make you download cookies. You can see this in action pretty much any time you want. Go surfing for something in particular, like a new smartphone, and visit a few product pages on sites like Apple’s, HTC’s, and Samsung’s official sites. It may seem like magic, but soon all the ads you see will start showing smartphone advertisements. On Facebook, you’ll start seeing suggested posts about smartphones. Everywhere you look there are smartphone ads! It’s not magic, it’s advertising networks looking at your cookies and seeing that you search for those things. This is called targeted advertising and it’s just one example of the kind of info companies can garner from cookies.

      How to fix: To prevent this, you can simply delete your cookies after you browse the web. This may seem a little inconvenient because that means all your saved passwords and such go away, but you’ll be improving your privacy. Each browser has a slightly different method but it’s a matter of accessing your history and deleting it. Another good strategy is to use the Incognito (otherwise known as Private) mode that most browsers have. These modes automatically delete cookies and history when you’re done browsing.

      6. Your cloud data is secure until it isn’t

      Thanks to antiquated cloud data laws and aggressive law enforcement agencies, your cloud data may one day be at risk. Just ask Kim Dotcom and his once lucrative Megaupload website. You must remember that cloud storage is convenient but that data is stored on a server somewhere else and that server does not belong to you and that can bring you problems. Additionally, if your password ever gets hacked then others may eventually get access to your files.

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      How to fix: The best way to prevent this is to use a back up hard drive rather than cloud storage. Or if you would rather use cloud storage then you absolutely shouldn’t put any sensitive information on there. This one is a tad alarmist because it’s not every day that a cloud storage site is raided by the authorities, but just in case it does happen, you don’t want them having that text file with all your passwords.

      7. Your photos are giving you away

      Security experts call Facebook the world’s largest facial recognition database. When you tag yourself and your friends in your pictures, you’re essentially telling the internet what all of you look like. If Facebook sells your photo data to third party advertisers (which they often do) then who knows who has your photos and what they’re doing with them.

      How to fix: There are lawmakers working on this issue right now (supposedly) but until then it’s probably your best bet to keep your photo sharing to a minimum. Having no profile picture can be shady but having a thousand photos is just bad for your privacy. We also advise not uploading anything of you doing anything that could be construed as immoral, like party photos, club photos, or anything overly risqué. Those photos could end up as advertising photos on websites you don’t want them on.

      8. You don’t use two-factor authentication

      Unfortunately, most sites don’t use this anyway. Two-factor authentication simply means that you login twice. Believe it or not, ATMs use two factor authentication. You have to have your debit card to prove that it’s you and then you must also enter a PIN. Google allows you to use two-factor authentication and many sites do it. My bank, Kemba, makes you answer a security question every time you login. Two-factor authentication at its best.

      How to fix: Right now there aren’t many companies that use two-factor authentication so your options are very limited. Most of the big companies like Google and Facebook do and you should opt into those immediately. Popular two-step methods involve verifying your identity when a company texts or emails you a verification code or makes you answer a security question when you log in. If you can, opt into that as soon as possible. Here’s how to do it in Gmail and you can easily Google search for other sites.

      9. You have not explored the privacy settings on your social media site

      protect online privacy

        Did you know that Facebook actually has a fairly extensive suite of privacy tools? You can control who tags you, and when and where. You can stop people you don’t know from finding your profile and stop people you don’t know from seeing it. On Twitter, you can simply set your account to protected and no one can see your profile unless you follow them. On Google+, you can configure each individual box of information to determine who gets to see it.

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        How to fix: On Facebook, click the little down arrow in the top right next to your notifications then click Settings. From there you can use the Privacy tab and the Timeline and Tagging tabs to control your privacy. On Google+ simply edit any box of information and you can determine exactly who sees each box. Here’s a short tutorial on how to do this on Twitter.

        10. You haven’t been paying attention to the third party apps you gave access to on social media

        Those things could get away with murder and blame you half the time if you let them! You may only sign into an app using Facebook or Google+ once, but they keep permission forever unless you manually delete them. In many cases they’re harmless, but it takes just one app asking for permission to see your friends, your info, and post to your timeline for a spammer to take your stuff to town.

        How to fix: If you’d like to see and trim your Facebook apps, you can follow these instructions. On Google+ you can follow this tutorial. Finally, on Twitter, follow this tutorial.

        11. You don’t use tools like Disconnect

        There are services out there that help you prevent websites from tracking what you do. One such web browser plugin is called Disconnect. This totally free plugin (you can donate if you want) is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. It prevents over 2000 websites from tracking your internet browsing habits. This results in better privacy and since sites aren’t tracking you anymore it actually results in faster web browsing too.

        How to fix: Follow this link and get that plugin. They also have another plugin called Collusion that will actually list what sites do track you. It’s kind of cool and kind of creepy all at the same time.

        12. Your IP address is easily seen by all who want to know

        You see this link here?: Powered by Find-IP.net

        That’s your IP address along with your location, your browser type, and what operating system you run. Creepy right? Pretty much any site on the internet can grab and keep that data if they so choose. Usually it’s used for analytics, but data hounds can grab that, keep it, and know when you sign in. This problem affects everyone.

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        How to fix: We posted a link for VPN services above that work to fix this problem. When you connect to a VPN, your traffic is routed through another server and thus you’ll show up as a different IP address from a different location. If you use Firefox, an iPad, or an iPhone you can use Cocoon, which routes your stuff through an alternate IP address easily.

        13. You’re not using Tor

        Tor is a system that allows you to search the web totally anonymously. It does this by bouncing your IP from place to place so people can’t find out where you are, or if they request your info (like in that widget above with your IP in it), the information will be false. It results in slower web browsing but if you need absolute secrecy while browsing, this is the best there is.

        How to fix: You can get Tor for your computer, iPhone, iPad, and Android. For your computer, click here to get Tor. For iPhone and iPad, it’s called Onion Browser and you can get it here on iTunes. On Android it’s called Orbot and you can get it here on Google Play. If you’re on Android, you’ll also need Firefox for Android and Proxy Mobile for Firefox.

        14. You’re using an unsecured search engine

        Remember earlier when we talked about how sites gather your data and use it to send your targeted ads? Well that includes Google Search, Bing, Yahoo Search, and all the other big search engines. That’s pretty much the best way to collect user data. They see what you search for and then send you ads for those things because you’re already looking for them.

        How to fix: To fix this, use a browser that doesn’t grab your data. A popular option is using the DuckDuckGo search engine, which doesn’t track your searches at all.

        Are these the only threats to your security? The answer is no, they’re not. However, these are the biggest and most egregious out there. If you can fix these, or even some of these, then you’ll be well on your way to living a more private life on the internet. That said, there is an adage that states that no one on the internet will ever truly have privacy or security. We can only do what we can and hope what others do get isn’t important or sensitive.

        Featured photo credit: End The Lie via endthelie.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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