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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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        Joseph Hindy

        A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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        Last Updated on September 11, 2019

        8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

        8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

        Computers and cell phones have become an integrated tool in our professional and personal lives that the original methods of using pen and paper may not be so common anymore.

        Although our old-school methods of note taking may not have entirely left us, technology is advancing with no intention of slowing down; iPads are moving into service industries, video calls are taking the place of in-person interviews, and store receipts are making its way into our email inbox – all of which requires the skill of typing.

        Learning a new skill doesn’t have to be boring and never had to be. Thankfully, there are effective games and apps that can help you learn to type fast with swift precision and accuracy.

        Why Typing Fast Matters?

        Learning how to type fast is a game changer. In fact, you can save 21 days per year by typing fast!

        Although shaving several minutes from curating a long email or texting paragraphs in a text message may not seem to be of great significance, the minutes soon do eventually add up and the long list of tasks then evolve into frustration. By the end of the day, time is being wasted, and the work pile is stacked high over your head.

        Why not alleviate some of those frustrations through practice and dedicating your spare time to build muscle memory?

        Learning a simple skillset like speed typing can drastically improve other essential areas in life including time-management and prioritization. Not only does it help you efficiently complete tasks at work and in your personal life, but it also boosts your productivity.

        8 Most Effective Typing Games and Apps

        Everyone learns at different speeds and uses various methods. While some work better under pressure and tight deadlines, others thrive when given ample amounts of time to learn and soak in the knowledge that is being provided. Despite the number of resources that are available in the hollow corners of the internet, it’s all about finding one source that helps you learn at your fullest potential.

        Whether you’re a keyboard ninja or not, here are some effective typing games and apps that allow you to test your speed, accuracy, and maybe shoot some spaceships along the way.

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        For Beginners

        1. Speed Typing Online

          What’s more fun than to type to the story of Alice in Wonderland or the lyrics to “Hey Jude”? Speed Typing Online is an online typing game that allows you to dive into the creative and familiar world of famous books, fables, songs, and even hone your skills in data entry.

          The bright blue frame holds the text, which then turns green after punching in the accurate keystrokes. After the end of the personal timer, a statistics page appears to show you your typed words per minute, accuracy, correct and incorrect entries, and error rate.

          2. Typing Trainer

            Typing Trainer

            is another online platform suited for beginner typists looking for step-by-step lessons. Learning the keys on a keyboard can confusing especially for those who aren’t as familiar or getting adjusted to typing on a computer keyboard.

            Typing Trainer has a collection of step-by-step tutorials that covers everything from sentence drills, introduction to new keys as the lessons progress, and skills test. The Typing Trainer specifically highlights unique features in each lesson including a warm-up section where the user begin to build muscle memory and learn to type without looking at the keyboard.

            The website is also programed to identify difficulties the user is facing when typing specific words or sentences.

            3. TapTyping – Typing Trainer

              There is the feeling of physically typing on a keyboard and then there’s the feeling of typing on a touch screen mobile device.

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              Since the use of cell phones has become closely integrated into our everyday lives, learning to type on a mobile is much of a skillset as it is to type on a computer. The mobile typing app, TapTyping – Typing Trainer, allows users to practice while on-the-go making it perfect for commuters who want to practice typing during their down time.

              The app allows you to challenge other typists around the world with TapTyping’s global leaderboard and test your skills by taking advanced lessons. There’s always room for improvement and with the app, you’ll be able to find your mistakes by watching a heat map of your finger strokes.

              For professional writers and programmers

              4. The Most Dangerous Writing App

                Suitable for writers facing a creative block or on a tight-deadline, the Most Dangerous Writing App is a website that forces your fingers to type as quickly as your ideas.

                If you stop longer than 5 seconds, everything you had written will slowly disappear from the screen.

                Sessions are timed from 3 minutes to 20 minutes, or can go from 75 to 1667 words. This online app is perfect to brain dump ideas, write a chapter of a manuscript you’ve been stuck on, or help with procrastination.

                If you’re up to the challenge, try the hardcore mode – an alternative option where a single letter appears on the screen at a time. This level prevents you from seeing the entire word, sentences, or even correct any spelling or grammatical mistakes until the timer is complete.

                If you’re wondering, copying and pasting is not an option until each the end of each session.

                5. The Typing Cat

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                  Looking to upgrade your typing skills? Also working as a personal tutor, the Typing Cat has a list of regular typing courses with the option to try other lessons with more complexity such as HTML. Learning to type code is a another valulable skillset worth adding.

                  Even with disregarded interest in the coding world, using the code course enhances your typing skills and allows your fingers to familiarize itself with uncommon word combinations and placement of punctuations on a keyboard.

                  The coding course can be difficult even for typing whizzes, but it’s all a part of muscle memory. According Psychology Today,[1] only a handful of people actually learn how to type by looking at an actual keyboard, while a majority of the population locate specific keys intuitively through muscle memory.

                  Available courses include EcmaScript 6, HTML 5, and CSS 3.

                  Fun typing games

                  6. ZType — Space Invaders Meet Webster

                    Remember playing the iconic 70’s game that allowed you to shoot tiny purple and green aliens from one end of the screen to the other with a two-bullet laser? It’s hard to believe that Space Invaders just turned 40 , but you can still get the same adrenaline rush with ZType, a typing game with the same shooting concept.

                    Ztype works in waves – stages that must be cleared but instead of aliens, you must type out the words before the missiles destroy your ship at the bottom of the screen. Every so often, longer and mor complex words would appear and if the words are not typed in the allotted time, a series of letters will disperse like missles.

                    The game is quick on the fingers and will still have your heart pumping until the very end.

                    7. Epistory – Typing Chronicles

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                      Although this game does cost money to purchase, it is worth the investment if you’re looking for a refreshing and alternative mode to learning how to type fast.

                      Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a role-playing action and adventure game of a young girl riding a fox in a magical and fictional realm; together they combat enemies in the shapes and forms of words.

                      Once you’re starterted, you almost forget you’re playing a typing game. The paper craft art aesthetics of the game has you captivated by the vibrant colors and character’s storyline, while having you build your typing skills.

                      8. Daily Quote Typing

                        Need some inspiration? Say no more.

                        Daily Quote Typing is one of many gammes available on Wordgames.com – a website that offers a variety of typing games ranging from different levels based on your experience.

                        With Daily Quote Typing, users are able to type out inspirational quotes by famous leaders, inventors, and innovators such as Mark Twain and Albert Einstein.

                        Bottom Line

                        At the end of the day, discipline and patience is what teaches to type faster. It comes down to making that commitment to improving not only your typing abilities, but in a lifelong skill that benefits other areas in life.

                        By practicing daily and using effective games and apps, it’s only a matter of time before keystrokes will become second nature and your brain will adapt to learning other skills faster.

                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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