Keeping your information safe in 2022

In 2022, the internet has made sharing information faster than ever. People are becoming more tech-savvy and have mastered multiple ways to trick people for information. One wrong click and someone can take off with your information and money before you can do anything about it. Here are some ways you can protect yourself while using it:

1. Use a strong password for all of your online accounts. Password generators are a great tool to ensure you are not using the same password for your accounts. Using the same password, even if strong, puts you at risk if an attacker found out that singular password. A hashing method is a one-way function to ensure hackers cannot enter an application’s password field and log in as you. Encryption is a two-way function and is more accessible for hackers to access, however, so this is more helpful if you need to store things like addresses vs. passwords. It is the user’s responsibility to select a modern hashing algorithm. If done correctly, it should be effective to the point of being impossible for a hacker to crack.

2. Never click on links in emails or text messages from people you don’t know. Scammers love using emails and text messages to trick people into giving them essential information. Scammers can get valuable information like your email, bank account, and SSN. Phishing emails and text messages have advanced and successfully tricked people into thinking their bank, credit card company, or even amazon accounts are messaging you directly to protect your account. Often messages will state they have noticed a suspicious activating or log-in, stating there is a problem with your account, say you need to confirm information, make a payment, or even try to offer you things for free. The same goes for downloading something off a website, text, or email that you are not sure is safe. Do not download anything that looks suspicious onto your phone or computer. If you think you are being scammed, pay attention to the sender’s info. A lot of the time, the sender’s email address will not match or make sense but could still have your credit card, bank, or website’s name. If you are unsure if an email is from a legitimate site, ask someone around you who may be tech-savvy. If you do not have anyone around you and are unsure, do NOT click the link. Close out of the message and contact the website directly by phone or chat and ask them if this is something they would do to reach out to you directly.

3. Be careful what personal information you share online. Social media has been an enormous hit, and with everything at your fingertips, social media sites know they can take a lot of your information for personal gain. Posting something on the internet is allowing something to be stored forever. You cannot get permanently rid of things with ease on the internet. Websites can also create updates to their terms and services where they are allowed to take additional information from us, and we agree to it because the information they add is not reader-friendly and can’t be that bad, can it? Not only can you leak information through websites, but even sharing a photo and tagging your friends or location can show anyone that location, school, address, or area. Creating post tags can give attackers information on many things, like what season your location is in, what car you just bought, or even when you graduated high school. Make sure you or your family stay safe and conscious of what is being posted. Remember that a hacker’s primary goal is to collect as much information as possible to answer as many questions while trying to take money from you. The more information and context clues you post on social media will make you more desirable to a hacker. Regularly check your social media privacy settings to ensure an update did not revert anything you may have selected to protect yourself.

4. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connected to public Wi-Fi networks. VPNs can sound intimidating, but it is easier than you think. By encrypting your data, a VPN can help protect your information from hackers. A VPN also gives you added protection when using public or shared Wi-Fi. VPNs are beneficial at home as well. Although you are less likely to have your information attacked at home vs. public, it is still not a 100% guarantee. VPNs keep your home protected. Make sure you pick a safe VPN that is well known for protecting your search history. Safety has to be the number one priority. VPNs also have other uses. A VPN can benefit gamers and tv watchers. Using a VPN will spoof your location, making it seem like you are elsewhere outside of your location. A VPN gives you a benefit by being able to get access to games and TV shows that are outside of your region. Know that a VPN still has its limits. If you click on a Facebook quiz link or like something on a social media app, attackers can still take your data, so they know what you are doing on their app. VPNs can also still be susceptible to malware. Ensure you understand what you are clicking on and sharing on the internet.

Staying safe on the internet in 2022 can be daunting. It can feel like there is no way to stay connected with friends and family safely. Adding additional security and remaining conscious of what you are posting or clicking on is a great start to ensure you are protected while on the internet.

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