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Are You Cyber Savvy? 3 Ways to Protect Yourself Online

Every 60 seconds in the United States, more than 2 million search requests pass through Google, 3,600 images are uploaded to Instagram and roughly 200 million emails are sent.   While web activity has become second nature, we don’t always make protecting our information a priority.  

Be Socially Secure on the Web

In 2014, a California woman’s home was burglarized after she posted a Facebook status about vacationing with her family in Las Vegas. It was later discovered that the burglar was one of the woman’s Facebook friends and had “liked” her status about being away hours before the crime.   While Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are great for staying in touch with loved ones, sharing too much information – especially if your profile is public – can have consequences. As a precautionary measure, update your privacy settings, and wait to post about your vacation until you’re home.  

Create an Ironclad Password

The Internet is used daily for countless reasons, such as online banking. And according to the online security company McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cybercrime – when hackers steal a person’s money or identity through an Internet data breach – costs the global economy around $445 billion annually. To protect your personal information, create a password for your online accounts that can’t be easily cracked.   A trick for creating a strong password is to choose a sentence you’ll easily remember, and only include the first letter of each word. For example, if the sentence you choose is “My mother was born in Virginia on July 28,” your password would be “MmwbiVoJ28.” Finally, never autosave your password, especially when using a public computer or network.  

Be Mindful of Malicious Malware

If you’ve ever been bombarded by a flashy pop-up encouraging you to “claim your free iPhone,” or received an email from an unfamiliar source containing a suspicious link, it was likely laced with malware. Malware is software containing a virus or spyware that automatically downloads to your computer, giving hackers control of your computer or access to your password and personal information.   According to the Federal Trade Commission, installing security software can help block malware from infecting your device. But this isn’t always foolproof. As a rule of thumb, only open emails or download attachments from a source you know and trust, and avoid clicking on pop-ups, regardless of how enticing they seem.  

Online Privacy: It’s Your Safety Net

In our technology-driven culture, most people rely on the Internet daily for business, shopping and interacting with friends. And since the majority of web activity involves passwords and sharing personal information – including paying bills and connecting through social media – it’s important to keep yourself safe. If you have children in grade school or heading off to college, it’s a good idea to educate them about how to stay safe on the Internet too.   By understanding the ins and outs of cybersecurity, you and your family can enjoy the benefits of the Internet without compromising your privacy.