Attention millennials: here’s how to protect yourself online

Between your phone, your work computer, your personal laptop and your iPad—how many hours do you think you spend online? Be honest with yourself. Is it 2 hours… 10… or even 15? There’s no way, right? Well, individuals ages 18 to 36 spend an average of approximately 18 hours a day with different types of online media, according to social-influence marketing platform Crowdtap.

The number can be alarming, but what’s more alarming is how the daily activity is directly exposing your personal information. So, what can you do? Let’s face it, with everything going mobile and more Snapchat and video-streaming to be done, you likely won’t be quitting the internet anytime soon. But there are some precautions you can take to protect yourself from overexposing your private information online.

Stop Oversharing

Growing up with the World Wide Web and immediate access to information has created a world of sharing. And although sharing may be caring, oversharing is a recipe for disaster. It seems simple, but the easiest way to tone down your social sharing is by not sharing unnecessary information on social media websites.

Anything that you might need to answer for security questions like your mother’s maiden name or your pet’s name, should be off limits when it comes to sharing on social. This is the type of information hackers are looking for when they want to break into your personal accounts.

Upgrade that Password

Many of us are guilty of using the same password we had since the AIM and AOL days. We’re event guiltier of not changing it since then and using it for any and all logins. By using the same password for all your accounts, you’re essentially handing over an all-access pass to your life.

Vary your passwords for different accounts, and write them down in a safe place (not in an email to yourself). Additionally, make sure you incorporate different symbols and numbers to make it harder to crack the code when push comes to keyboard.

Be Careful of Too Good to Be True Scenarios

Any offers or sweepstakes that pop up either in your email, on the computer window screen or via unsolicited call that seems too good to be true, is likely a scam. When this situation comes up and you’re asked to provide private information in order to enter to “win”—do not give answer these questions. Chances are, the soliciting party is on a mission to use your identity to their advantage.

Hide Your Phone Number

A simple way to indirectly ask for unwanted calls from scammers is by putting it on your social media pages. Although you think it may be helpful for people to reference, think twice and opt out of the option to put your phone number up. Those who need your phone number, likely have it already or can get it from you in person.

It’s also important not to share your number with just anyone. With the rise of dating apps, you can innocently share your number, but heavily regret it once someone you’re not that into overuses it and abuses it. The first question is, is this person potentially dangerous, and the follow up question might be – how to block your phone number for safety. You can go to your phone’s settings and block calls and texts from certain numbers as well as activate scam protection.

Logout

Whether you open an app or website on your computer, it’s pretty common to forget to logout of the sites you visit most. Leaving yourself logged in though makes your personal information and accounts susceptible to sticky fingers and stickier eyes. Log out of all financial banking and social media accounts as soon as your done with the site, especially if you’re on a public network.

Going online and using internet connection is second nature to us. We love the instant access to whatever information, shopping and communication we please. But it doesn’t mean we can turn our heads to the bad that comes with the good. By taking the right precautions and protecting your information online, you too, can be included in the smart mix as we ride out this age of smart things.

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