It can be easy to feel comfortable sharing information because you are in the comfort of your own home and you can simply delete any content you put out there that you no longer feel proud of, but the truth is, once you put something out there, it’s out of your hands. Others can easily screenshot or look up archives of old web pages and posts. That is why it is imperative that both you and your loved ones know how to protect yourself in the ever-expanding World Wide Web.
Here are our top tips from one of the best business modernization and IT support companies in Orange County on how you can stay safe in cyberspace:
Think twice (or thrice) about what you post
It’s possible for some data to get lost permanently, but there’s no guarantee of that. It’s impossible to predict how every person out there may perceive your message, but generally speaking, it is a good idea to think about how others may discern it. If you think you might regret any words or a photo you’re considering sharing later – just don’t do it. In 2018, 38% of companies reported that they had terminated an employee for something they posted on social media. This falls within the boundaries of at-will employment that most companies in the United States abide by.
You should also never share information such as your bank account number or your social security number through text, email, or any sort of instant messaging.
In some cases, it will be necessary to use your real name on the Internet, such as if you are a business owner or for other professional purposes. When you are simply gaming or doing other recreational activities, use a fake name or a username. Are you the biggest basketball fan on the planet? Say hello to MichaelJordanFan63. You can also use a random name generator. You might not be a member of The Avengers but having an online persona can be the next most awesome thing.
Try an anonymous search engine
Using Google’s products is kind of inevitable. We use Google Docs for work and watch YouTube when we come home, which is owned by the tech giant. However, if you want to reduce the amount of information about you that is tracked, you can try DuckDuckGo or Startpage. You can set it either as your homepage or your default search engine on your desktop or mobile device. You can also download the app for either search engine on your smartphone. DuckDuckGo also offers an extension that will “grade” the privacy level of each website you visit.
Use a virtual private network
A virtual private network (VPN) will mask your Internet Protocol (IP) address. Why is this important? When you use public wifi at the library or at Starbucks, your online activity and even your sensitive information become easier for hackers and other evildoers to discover. Even when you are using your home Internet connection, your online activity is tracked by advertisers, especially the Big 5 tech companies (Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta (formerly Facebook Inc.), and Microsoft). Some people may argue that this is a good thing because that way, advertisers are able to show them more content and products that they are interested in. To each their own, but if you are one of the people who would prefer to not have advertisers following you around, then you definitely should use a virtual private network. In no way do you have to be an expert in IT solutions in Orange County to learn to use one.
Don’t share your whereabouts
If you’re going on vacation, don’t announce it. Believe it or not, there have been incidents of people talking about their upcoming trips, only to return and find that their house was broken into because the intruder knew that they would be away. While it’s of course not guaranteed that this will happen, always wait until after your getaway is over to share any photos.
Monitor your children’s social media presence
If you have children under 18, it is important to teach them how to navigate the World Wide Web as safely as possible. Minors should not be sharing their real names, where they live or where they attend a school or sharing their personal photos with strangers online. Just like how you teach your children about “stranger danger” and how to deal with an untrustworthy adult, in this day and age, you must also make them aware that, unfortunately, not all of the billions of people using the Internet across the world have good intentions. With cyberbullying and cyberstalking being an ongoing issue in the 21st century, teaching your child responsible online practices is an absolute must for the modern-day parent. It may also be a good idea on your part as a parent to limit what you share about your children on your own social media. Avoid “sharenting” by sharing your child’s personal information or even uploading their photos. We know that it’s exciting and only natural to want to share your child’s milestones, but at the end of the day, your child’s well-being and security should always come first.
Consider using a computer security software
Services such as McAfee and Norton not only come with virtual private networks, but they can also monitor your personal information, including your bank information and your social security numbers. Those are two things you certainly don’t want to get into someone else’s grubby hands! They can also scan your computer for potential threats such as viruses and malware.
Use OneRep or DeleteMe
These services will remove your information from online directories such as White Pages and TruthFinder. While websites like these can serve as great tools for employers to screen job applicants or discover if that shady person you recently hooked up with is who they present themselves to be, it can potentially mean bad news for you if you don’t want strangers to be able to search up your name and find your home address. Once someone turns 18, their information becomes public on these data broker websites by default. The Internet is a massive place and it can be difficult to manually send all these opt-out requests on your own, which is why it is probably in your best interest to get an annual subscription to either DeleteMe or OneRep.
Knowing how to use a computer goes beyond just understanding their primary and technical functions. It also means knowing how to protect your personal information from scammers and other kinds of no-good-doers. Here at Newport Computer Group, we are committed to both the safety and satisfaction of our customers. If you’re ready to experience the difference of one of the most trusted business modernization and IT Support Companies in Orange County, please give us a call at (949) 436-8324 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also fill out our contact form here on our website
We can hardly wait to meet you!