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Recently there’s been a lot of buzz about online privacy. The NSA monitoring scandal has put a huge spotlight on the issue, and it’s something everyone spending time online should consider.  

online privacyBut it can be really overwhelming to think about protecting yourself online. There are so many different ways people can spy on you and potential steal your personal information or even your identity.

Luckily, there are some incredibly easy things you can do to start protecting yourself online.

Customize Your Facebook Settings

Social media opens a huge can of worms when it comes to online privacy. The reason you’re on social media is to share content, but you don’t want your pictures and personal information getting in the wrong hands.

Facebook has a lot of privacy settings that you should be familiar with. You have to determine what level of privacy is right for you, but chances are the presets aren’t right for you. Here’s a good guide to Facebook’s privacy settings by IT security vendor Sophos.

Put a Password on Your Devices

This may seem like a no-brainer, but for years I went without a password on my smart phone. Let’s face it, it’s a pain to enter a code every time you use your phone.  But leaving your devices unprotected is just like leaving your house unlocked. Odds are no one will try to get in anyway, but why take the risk?

When you create your device password, also make sure it’s not the same as your PIN number for financial accounts. (Whenever I’m asked to create a four number code, my mind automatically picks my debit card PIN number.) If both codes are the same, someone could see you enter the password on your device and use it to access your accounts. 

Sign Out of Online Accounts

When you’re finished using an account online, be sure to sign out. Most people already do this for their bank accounts and other sensitive websites, but it’s a good practice to do it for other accounts like social media too.

This prevents someone from coming on the computer behind you and snooping around in your accounts. This is especially important on pubic computers.

Set Up a Google Alert for Your Name

Google Alerts makes it easy to keep tabs on what’s being said about you online. Simply set up an alert for your name (and different variations of your name) with quotation marks around it, and they’ll send you updates when something is published that mentions your name. You can also customize the results to come to your email address immediately, daily or weekly.

With these tips, it’s easy to start safeguarding your privacy online. To learn more about safe online practices, check out our infographic “Who Can You Trust in a Digital World?

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