The Internet is an amazing tool for productivity, communication and entertainment. Unfortunately, your presence online can expose you to a number of risks, including lost information, identity theft and computer piracy. The Internet is a public forum, but that doesn't mean it has to be unsafe to navigate. Here are five ways to protect your privacy.
Change your password regularly
Just about every online account requires a password. One way to protect privacy online is to change passwords on a regular basis and avoid using passwords that are easy to figure out. Changing your password periodically may sound like a hassle, but it's highly recommended, if not necessary. The 25 most common passwords from 2013 (that should be avoided) can be found at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-25-most-common-passwords-of-2013.
Beware of fraudulent email messages
Email is a regular part of daily communication, and it is not unusual for people to correspond this way with vendors, coworkers, family and friends. Online thieves know this, which is why consumers sometimes receive emails that are designed to look like they are from a legitimate, trusted source. The best strategy for protecting your privacy is to be aware of this practice, and be vigilant in checking the source of an email before clicking embedded links, opening attachments, and giving out any sort of personal information. To learn how to identify a fraudulent email, go to http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4933.
Who are you dealing with online?
Online shopping has become enormously popular in recent years, which is why e-commerce sites are also a popular target for hackers. Protect your online privacy and financial information by scrutinizing particular vendors and being careful about providing personal information. When in doubt, you may want to stick with a trusted brand instead of giving your credit card number to an unknown site, simply because the price is right.
Identify theft protection
For some, protecting privacy online may require some external help. Some consumers have turned to identity-theft protection services. One example of this is LifeLock, and more information on this company can be found at http://www.lifelock.com. Keep in mind, however, that subscribing to this type of service is not 100 percent guaranteed, and you should continue to take other steps to protect sensitive information.
Software tools and security settings
There are many software packages for protecting online privacy. These include everything from browser plugins (and settings) to various software programs. To learn more, check out publications like Wired (http://www.wired.com) or PC Magazine (http://www.pcmag.com) for software reviews and price comparisons. If you use social media, also consider your security settings and preferences. Too often consumers get on a site like Facebook and proceed to volunteer all sorts of private information that could ultimately compromise them in a variety of ways.
Nothing is guaranteed in life, and online privacy can be infringed even when you're diligent about protection. Still, a few precautions and good habits can make your online experience safer.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado