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4 Simple Steps To Make Your Internet Life Secure

4 Simple Steps To Make Your Internet Life Secure

Do you often wonder how much privacy you have online? From your emails, chat convos, and backups to running and maintaining a website or a blog, your internet life isn’t exactly 100 percent safe.

Yes, cyber attacks happen all the time.

But you don’t have to get paranoid about that as long as you take some precautionary measures that will save you a lot of trouble. The best thing you can do is to understand the basics of how to avoid exposing yourself and becoming vulnerable, and consider some of the tools that will keep you covered while you’re online.

Let’s look at a few ways of protecting yourself from the digital bad guys.

Why You Should Encrypt Your E-mail

Checking e-mails is the number one task we do online, at least twice a day. We need to communicate, stay in touch and exchange ideas. While setting strong e-mail passwords is always recommended, whether you’re using web-based solutions like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook, or an e-mail client, this no longer seems to be enough.

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The main reason why you should encrypt your e-mail is to simply keep your data safe from people or organizations that have the means to break into your accounts, steal and reset your passwords and log in as yourself.

Not only can they read your e-mails, but they also pull information about you that should be yours and yours only. Just visualize for a moment the journey of your e-mail messages across different networks that are more or less secure and monitored. Scary, right? You don’t know when Big Brother looks over your shoulder and reads information that should remain private.

If you’re not exactly tech-savvy, there are easy solutions you can implement. Jack Wallen at TechRepublic has put together a list of five free applications you can use to easily encrypt your e-mail.

Keep Your Chat Conversations Between You and Your Counterpart

The same element of privacy goes for your online chat convos too. There are so many options for connecting with people across the globe and even more directions from where you can become a target of internet security breach.

You can encrypt, for instance, your Facebook Chat and Google Talk/Hangout conversations by downloading Pidgin, a trusted instant messaging client.

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Besides that, you might also want to have a look at chat apps that encrypt conversations such as Cryptocat and Chatcrypt, to name just a few.

Keep Your Data Safe with Secure Backups and File Syncing

As far as file syncing and backup options go, Dropbox stands out for being more than just a free file hosting service. It’s the best online backup option. You can sync files between your devices. With the free 2GB storage, you can share large chunks of data. No more attachments and removable media are needed. In addition to that, your stuff will always be safe and can be instantly restored if any of your devices get broken.

Another collaborative tool that syncs files and makes online backups is SugarSync.  You can try it free for 30 days. From individual to business, SygarSync offers you the plan that suits you best. It helps you decide what and where you want to sync, and automatically backs up all your pictures and videos. Also, you can share files in a snap, whether it’s through social media, e-mail or your blog. More important, the Remote Wipe option removes all synced files from your PC or Mac in case of theft or loss, while the data still resides in the cloud.

Last but not least, Mozy offers three types of products: for Personal Use, Enterprise IT and Business. Mozy takes care of your digital information by offering a simple automatic and secure cloud-based online backup service. Backed by EMC, it stores and protects more information for Fortune 500 businesses than any other company. To use it, simply download the software and create an account.

Use a Password Manager to Generate Strong Passwords

Setting a different password for each website you access may reduce the risk of your password being stolen. This can be a hassle as it may be difficult to remember all of them, especially if you work from different computers and, on top of that, use a smartphone and an iPad.

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This is where password managers can help. Simply put, a password manager generates strong, random and unique passwords and remembers them for you.

There are many online password managers available. While there are debates about how safe these are, more and more users would rather keep themselves on the safe side instead of having their social media, online banking and e-mail accounts hacked.

Lastpass is free and offers various features apart from generating a password for a new site. It helps you centralize your data while keeping it safe, back up your files automatically and send login information for shared accounts to friends and family who are also LastPass users. Plus, for $12 per year you can get unlimited mobile access.

Roboform manages all your passwords automatically and connects you to the websites of your choice. It’s fast, secure and intelligent. It works with Internet Explorer, Firefox, AOL/MSN, and many other browsers and fully supports Windows 7.

KeePass offers strong security, doesn’t require installation and the password database can be easily transferred to another computer. What’s even better is that it can be translated in over 30 languages!

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There you go! These are just four easy steps to keep you safe on your online journey.

Over to you:

What other tips can you share that make your internet life secure? Sound off in the comments below.

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Anca Dumitru

Freelance Writer & Content Strategist

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

We are all about doing things faster and better around here at Lifehack. And part of doing things faster and better is having a solid personal productivity system that you use on a daily basis.

This system can be just about anything that helps you get through your mountain of projects or tasks, and helps you get closer to your goals in life. Whether it’s paper or pixels, it doesn’t really matter. But, since you are reading Lifehack I have to assume that pixels and technological devices are an important part of your workflow.

“Personal Productivity System” defined

A personal productivity system (at least the definition that this article will use) is a set of workflows and tools that allow an individual to optimally get their work done.

Workflows can be how you import and handle your photos from your camera, how you write and create blog posts, how you deploy compiled code to a server, etc.

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Tools are the things like planners, todo managers, calendars, development environments, applications, etc.

When automation is bad

You may be thinking that the more that we automate our systems, the more we will get done. This is mostly the case, but there is one very big “gotcha” when it comes to automation of anything.

Automation is a bad thing for your personal productivity system when you don’t inherently understand the process of something.

Let’s take paying your bills for example. This may seem very obvious, but if you can’t stick to a monthly budget and have trouble finding the money to make payments on time, then automating your bill payment every month is completely useless and can be dangerous for your personal finances.

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Another example is using a productivity tool to “tell you” what tasks are important and what to do next. If you haven’t taken a step back and figured out just how your productivity systems should work together, this type of automation will likely keep you from getting things done.

You can only automate something in your personal productivity system that have managed for a while. If you try to automate things that aren’t managed well already, you will probably feel a bit out of control and have a greater sense of overwhelm.

Another thing to remember is that some things should always be done by yourself, like responding to important emails and communicating with others. Automating these things can show your coworkers and colleagues that you don’t care enough to communicate yourself.

When automation is good

On the other hand, automation is a great thing for your personal productivity system when you understand the process of something and can then automatically get the steps done. When you know how to manage something effectively and understand the step-by-step process of a portion of your system, it’s probably a great time to automate it.

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I have several workflows that I have introduced in the last year that takes some of the “mindless” work from me so I can be more creative and not have to worry about the details of something.

On my Mac I use a combination of Automator workflows, TextExpander snippets, and now Keyboard Maestro shortcuts to do things like automatically touch-up photos imported from my iPhone 4S or open all the apps and websites needed for a weekly meeting to the forefront of my desktop by typing a few keys. Once you open yourself up to automating a few of your processes, you start to see other pieces of your system that can benefit from automation.

Once again; none of this works unless you understand your processes and know what tools you can use to get them done automatically.

The three steps to determine if something is “ripe” for automation

If your workflow passes these three steps, then automate away, baby:

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  1. You can do this process in your sleep and it doesn’t require your full, if any form of attention. It can (and has been) managed in some form prior to automating it.
  2. The process is time consuming.
  3. The process doesn’t require “human finesse” (ie. communicating and responding to something personally)

Automating your personal productivity systems can be a great for you in the long run if you are careful and mindful of what you are doing. You first need to understand the processes that you are trying to automate before automating them though. Don’t get stuck in thinking that anything and everything should be automated in your life, because it probably shouldn’t.

Pick and choose these processes wisely and you’ll find the ones that take up most of your time to be the best ones to automate. What have you automated in your personal productivity system?

Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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