4 Ways to Protect Your Online Data
At Brit + Co’s CreateGood Hustle Night, we chatted with TV host and interior designer Genevieve Gorder about the importance of her online presence. “I use it as a place for deep deep authenticity, ” Gorder said. “Beyond TV, you want to show that you have a brain, that you can speak well, that maybe you played classical violin for 20 years, or you can cook. That you’re a mom. All the other parts of you that aren’t on stage but make you the stage person… the struggle too. It’s not perfect, and it’s good to relate to people in that way.”
This desire to connect with others is not unique to Gorder. And with more and more of our lives being shared on social media and the internet in general, we often forget how much of our personal data is actually out there. “We’re leaving that digital trail,” says Gorder. “There is a memory of everything we do and everything we buy and everywhere we go with our digital footprint… it’s something we need to pay a little more attention to, just like your finances.”
Gorder has partnered with Allstate on their Hidden World of Data digital safety initiative to raise awareness around the importance of protecting our lives online. We take the time and effort to keep our physical assets safe; why wouldn’t we do the same with our digital ones? According to Allstate‘s research, 95 percent of Americans feel that protecting their online data is just as important as protecting things like houses and cars, but only eight percent consider themselves experts about their digital footprint. Maybe that’s why 47 percent of Americans have had their personal information compromised and 37 percent of those Americans have had unauthorized charges on their bank account. If you want to help keep your personal information personal, here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. When ‘Gramming: We’ve all been tempted to ‘gram an amazing meal, vacation, or even workout. But keep in mind, what you’re posting can reveal a lot more than what you’re eating for dinner. Double check your privacy settings to make sure your data isn’t being collected by other companies or apps or revealing your location when you don’t want it to. This also goes without saying, but when sharing photos, make sure there is no sensitive data captured in the shot, like if your friends decide to take a group selfie while playing credit card roulette at dinner.
2. When Online Shopping: Online shopping is a great/terrible thing. You can buy anything at the click of a button, regardless if you’re considering a big purchase, taking a break from work to restock on some essentials, or making a possibly regrettable purchase after drinking a bottle of wine. While we can’t do much to curb your impulsive shopping habits, we can tell you to at least try to stick with trusted retail websites (look for verification by TrustArc or Verisign) that have been vetted and are less likely to scam your credit cards. Use credit instead of debit cards when possible; that way, if your card is compromised, it’ll be easier to dispute charges with the credit card company before you see any cash drained from your savings account. And finally, don’t go on a crazy shopping spree while you’re sitting in a cafe on public WiFi — no one needs to see how many matching shirts you’re buying for you and your dog, and more importantly, passwords and credit card information are more susceptible to be stolen on unsecured WiFi networks.
3. When Surfing the Web: Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours online in some form or other, so trust your instinct: If a website looks suspicious, it probably is. Look for the padlock symbol or https (vs. http) in your browser address bar — this means the site is secure, and sensitive information is encrypted when being sent back and forth.
When creating passwords, try to create one that’s at least 10 characters long with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. So even though “Password” is an easy password to remember, it’s also easy for hackers to remember. If you don’t think you can memorize the logins for all your different accounts, try an encrypted password manager app like 1Password or LastPass, which can generate randomized passwords and store other secure data for you. Note: You just need to remember the master password you use to set up the account. (Don’t use “Password” for that either.)
4. When Online Banking: You probably enjoy the convenience of managing your money straight from your phone — who has time to find a bank these days? — but just like a physical bank has security guards, your online version should also have some protection.
If you’re using on an online banking app, make sure it’s from an official or reputable source, and check that it has two-factor authentication (requires two passwords to access your account). Always log out when you’re done with your session and double, triple check the identity of who you’re requesting money from or sending money to. Like with credit cards, your bank and financial information are prime targets for hackers, so never send money over a public, unsecured WiFi network.
See? It’s that easy. Even these kids can do it:
What are your best tips for protecting your online data? Share them with us @BritandCo.
(Photos via Brittany Griffin/Brit + Co)
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Lesley Chen is a California native who writes about travel, health/fitness, and other lifestyle topics. She has a serious case of RBF and exercises mainly to balance out an aggressive candy addiction.