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How to Secure Yourself Online

How to Secure Yourself Online

Cyber crime is now one of the top four economic crimes, costing about $114 billion annually. Every day, one million computers are successfully hacked for personal or confidential information. For this reason, many businesses and individuals have taken steps to protect their computers from getting hacked. But with the major shift toward reliance on mobile devices, attacks on portable devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops are increasing. With the power to hold more information and the ability to link data between all of these devices, they are becoming all the more enticing to hackers.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to secure your information on these devices to defend against being robbed in cyberspace. Many of the same measures can be applied to each, which makes it easier to form good habits in becoming more secure. Take this digital security quiz to grade your current online security level so you can decide where to start, then you can check out the tips below for ultimate digital security.

Use Solid Passwords

Despite the widely known advice to employ strong passwords, keeping track of complicated codes is often viewed as a hassle and ignored. An analysis from a phishing scheme that leaked the accounts and passwords of 10,000 Hotmail users showed that 42% used passwords consisting only of letters, 19% used only numbers and 22% used the minimum character count of six, making them very weak. Patterns of common passwords were found, which makes it extremely easy for hackers to infiltrate many accounts.

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The reward of being protected is worth the extra effort involved in using different passwords for different accounts and devices. Come up with passwords that consist of combinations of letters, numbers and special characters adding up to at least eight characters. To help you remember, you can use combinations of acronyms and dates that hold meaning to you. If you find yourself running out of ideas for good character combinations, programs like RoboForm can help you generate and store them.

Implement Two-Step Verification

To further strengthen the sign-in process to your accounts, add another layer of security with two-step verification. This requires you to both know something (a password) and have something (a physical object) in order to access your information. For example, a debit card holder needs to possess the physical card, as well as know the PIN number to use it. In the same way, an online entity might ask for a password, and once it is verified, will send a second unique code to your phone. If your password is discovered, hackers aren’t able to access your data with just that knowledge.

Beware of Public Wireless Networks

The most secure way to use a wireless network is to use your own personal, encrypted system. However, it’s likely that you’ll need to do work or access accounts while outside your home at some point or another. Some public Wi-Fi networks, such as in hotels, coffee shops and airports, are secure, but you can’t count on it. If a network requires a code in order to gain internet access, it’s probably secure, but a lot of public places have open access. If you do decide to use public networks and aren’t sure whether they’re encrypted, keep these tips in mind to remain secure while using them.

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Look for “https”
If you’re inputting any kind of personal information or password to log in to a website, only use sites with URLs that begin with “https” (as opposed to “http”). This means that the secure website encrypts – or scrambles up – the combination of characters you send off, so that potential hackers can’t read what you’re actually inputting.

Change up your usernames and passwords
Don’t use the same sign-in information for several sites, especially if you’re accessing them on a public network. This way, if you are hacked, the attacker can’t easily get into all your accounts.

Tip: Always log out of each of your accounts to minimize potential hacking time.

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Avoid online banking
To be safe, you should save your banking and bill paying for your private home or network: other users on a public network can snatch your financial information.

Watch Your Apps

The number of free apps abounds, but be careful when deciding to download. Not all developer guidelines are strict, so apps can be unreliable and unsecure, transmitting your data to third parties. Make sure that you are familiar with the app developer before you download, and look through other users’ comments and reviews.

Lookout is a convenient mobile app that can protect your phone from malicious apps and fraudulent links, as well as carry out routine backups in case of data loss.

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Install Antivirus Software

It’s become common practice to install antivirus software on computers, but not many mobile users equip their devices with it, though much of the same information is carried on them. Hackers commonly install viruses on devices in order to gain private information from them. Here are some great mobile security apps to install on your phone.

It’s important to keep all of your software updated, as old versions can lose their effectiveness and keep you from getting all the available benefits and features from upgrades.

Not Enough?

If you’ve taken these security precautions and your device gets physically stolen, it’s a good idea to employ a remote swipe, in which you erase all of your sensitive data, including contacts, email, music, photos, etc., from wherever you are.

The key to remaining secure in cyberspace is to be diligent and consistent in your safety measures, which is easy to do with all the available software and apps to aid you. It’s as simple as taking the first steps, managing your information and staying updated.

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Last Updated on August 29, 2018

5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

Journaling is one of the most useful personal development tools around. Not only does it help us process emotions and experiences, work through internal conflicts and improve our self-awareness, it also provides us with a way to keep a day-to-day record of our lives. Traditionally an activity limited to pen and paper, the expansion of consumer technology has enabled journaling to go digital.

Saving your journaling entries online enables you to access them from anywhere, without having to carry a notebook and pen around, and provides you with digital features, like tagging and search functions.

Here are a list of five online journaling tools you can use to bring your practice into the modern age:

1. 750words

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750 words

    750words is a free online journaling tool created by Buster Benson. The site is based on the idea of “Morning Pages”; a journaling tool Julia Cameron suggests in her creativity course The Artist’s Way. Cameron advises aspiring creatives to start each morning with three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing to clear away the mental clutter, leaving you with a clearer mind to face the day.

    750 words is the three-page digital equivalent (assuming the average person writes 250 words per page) and lets you store all your journaling online. Each morning, you’ll receive a prompt asking you to write your 750 words, and the site keeps track of various statistics associated with your entries. The site uses a Regressive Imagery Dictionary to calculate the emotional content from your posts and provides feedback on features like your mood, and most commonly used words.

    750 words is simple to set up and is ideal for anyone who finds it challenging to maintain a consistent journaling practice. The site uses a number of incentives to motivate users, including animal badges awarded to journalers who complete a certain number of days in a row, leader boards, and opt-in monthly challenges.

    2. Ohlife

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    ohlife

      Ohlife is designed to make online journaling as easy as possible. Once you’ve signed up for your free account, the website will send you an email each day asking “How did your day go?” Simply reply to the email with as much or as little detail as you like, and your response will be stored on your account, ready to view next time you log in.

      Ohlife’s appeal lies in its simplicity: no stats, no social sharing, no complicated organisational systems—the site is designed to provide you with a private, online space. Simply respond to the email each day (or skip the days you’re busy) and Ohlife will do the rest.

      3. Oneword

      oneword

        OneWord is a fun online tool that provides you with a single word as a prompt and gives you sixty seconds to write about it. The concept’s aim is to help writers learn how to flow, and the prompts range from the everyday mundane to the profound.

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        Oneword is not a private journaling tool: if you sign up, your answers will be published on the site’s daily blog, which contains a stream of users’ answers, and might be used by Oneword in the future. If you’d rather keep your answers to yourself, you can still use the tool for fun without giving out any personal details.

        4. Penzu

          Penzu is a journaling tool that allows you to store your journaling notes online. The service also offers mobile apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry, so you can journal on the go and save your notes to your account. The basic service is free, however you can upgrade to Penzu Pro and get access to additional features, including military-grade encryption and the ability to save and sync data through your mobile, for $19 per year.

          With either version of Penzu, you can insert pictures, and add tags and comments to entries, as well as search for older entries. You can set your posts to be private and viewable by you only, or share them with others.

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          5. Evernote

          Evernote isn’t a purpose-built journaling tool, however its features make it perfect for keeping your journaling notes in one safe place. With the ability to keep separate “notebooks”, tag your entries, include pictures, audio and web clipping, Evernote will appeal to journalers who want to include more formats than just text in their entries.

          Available online within a web browser, and as a stand-alone desktop app, the service also comes with a series of mobile apps covering almost every device available. These allow you to make notes on the go and sync between the mobile and browser versions of the app.

          For additional features, including text recognition and the ability to collaborate on Notebooks, you can upgrade to Evernote’s premium service, which costs $5 per month.

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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