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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 February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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