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Ways to Keep Your Personal Information Secure on the Internet

Fri, Jun. 10, 2016 Posted: 02:41 AM

 It has been said that anything that is on the internet never really goes away. Information is always somewhere on the internet. Many do not think about who is seeking out the information that can be found on the internet. They do not worry that someone may find out something that can harm the individual. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. There are people and businesses that are actively seeking out anything that can find out about individuals. Some of these are legitimate businesses that may not think they are doing anything harmful. Others are criminals who are looking to steal private information for their own gain.

People may hope that any information they provide to others on the internet will be kept private. Businesses do have a responsibility to secure their private information. It is also up to the individual to make sure that they are safe and secure whenever they get on the internet. These are some of the ways that they can keep their private information safe.

Understanding the Dangers of Information on The Internet

Before a person learns how to keep their private information secure on the internet, they need to learn and how their information is at risk. There is plenty of information about just about anyone on the internet. Whether a picture has been posted on a social media site or if a person engages in online bill paying, a digital footprint is created for the individual. It is possible to follow the trail that is left by a digital footprint to paint a picture of the individual. That picture can include where they live, who they are associated with, what their interests are and also information such as bank accounts, passwords, social security numbers and much more.
The private information can be used in many ways. It may be used by a retailer to send targeted ads to a person. It could be used to slander a person or it could be used to steal a person’s identity. Here are some ways to avoid the problems by keeping personal information secure.

  • Start with network security - Many network security threats today are spread over the Internet. Some of the most common include viruses, worms, zero-day attack,denial of service, etc. Effective network security targets a variety of threats and stops them from entering or spreading on your network. An intrusion prevention system such as Snort can be used to protect your network.The goal of these systems is to maintain a database of the known ways that networks are being attacked and being able to recognize these attacks to stop employees or anyone using the small business’s network from making a mistake that allows for an attack to occur. These systems are a great way to prevent an intrusion form happening by accident.
  • Don’t store private information on a device – It may be nice to always have access to bank account information, credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords and other private information by storing it somewhere on a computer device. It is also very dangerous. If anyone gains access to the computer, they could gain access to that private information.
  • Choose the right passwords – Creating a strong and unique password may not always be easy, but it is important. Strong passwords include a combination of unrelated letters and numbers. It should include upper and lowercase letters and it should include special characters. In order to remember the different passwords, utilize apps that keep them secure. Do not allow a web browser to automatically remember passwords. This could give someone who gets their hand a computer, access to accounts that are supposed to be private.
  • Securing Personal Information Online – The ability to do things online has made many lives easier. Online banking and shopping are convenient, but they require people to provide private information. Many other things that are done online require a person to provide personal information online. There is also the danger of viruses and spyware infecting a computer and tracking everything an individual does on their computer device. To keep personal information safe when online a person needs to act like someone is already trying to steal that information from them. They need to be careful about who they are providing personal information to. They need to make sure that they always use passwords and keep information encrypted whenever possible. Never click on links or go to unknown or untrusted sites. When it is time to get rid of a computer device make sure all information is permanently deleted before getting rid of it.
  • Securing Personal Information Offline – While it should be obvious to keep personal information secure when online, it is equally important to think about securing information offline. Passwords should not be written down or kept in places that others have access to. Receipts, credit card bills or other bills, expired credit cards, and anything else that has personal information on it should be shredded or destroyed beyond recognition before throwing out. Secure a mailbox in some way to prevent others from taking mail out. Be careful when receiving unsolicited phone calls. All of these things could help prevent anyone from getting personal information they could use to hurt an individual.
  • Secure Your Device – Securing a computer device is fairly simple. A password to open the device is essential. All devices, including home computers, routers and mobile device need to be password protected. When connecting to the internet, make sure it is a trusted connection. If it is a public Wi-Fi, avoid any sites that contain personal information and make sure that a firewall and security software is on and working. Avoid any suspicious sites on public Wi-Fi. Install software to help find a lost device or to shut it down remotely. If possible, keep the device in eyesight at all times, but if not possible, make sure it is locked away securely and not in open sight.

One last thing that can be done to protect is to slow down when using a computer device. Take the time to read the privacy statements, to check out a website before navigating to it, to type a URL address into a computer instead of clicking on a link and to avoid opening email or messages from unknown sources. It may not always be easy or convenient, but when compared to having private information stolen, it is much better.
What do you think about personal internet security? Who should do it and is it really important? What else should people know. Please take the time to share your thoughts and ideas about this with us.

Joy Mali