3 Key Ways to Be Safe Online

If your great-great grandma were alive today, she would undoubtedly be blown away by the myriad of things you can accomplish on your computer or smartphone. From using messaging on Instagram to plan a lunch date with your bestie and paying your bills — no checks or stamps needed — to watching movies, working, shopping, and more, computers have made life a lot easier than when your great-great grandma was your age.

Of course, there can be a dark side to spending time online. Identity theft, hacking, and other issues are things to be aware of. At the same time, thanks to the following tips, you can take tangible steps to maintain a safe and secure web presence. Finally, make sure that you data is well-protected when you transfer files online.

Keep Personal Info to Yourself

As Chelsea Groton Bank notes, hackers can use your social media profile to help figure out your passwords and security questions. Make sure your privacy settings are set at the maximum on each social media site and keep personal data like your birthday, address, and kids’ and pets’ names off these sites as well. Also, if someone you don’t know sends you a friend request on Facebook or asks to follow you on Instagram, it’s okay to delete these notifications and, if necessary, block these people.

As a side tip, when you are setting up a new online account and are answering security questions, give incorrect replies. For instance, instead of typing that your dog’s name is Barkley, reply with a favorite type of cereal or your occupation. Then, if a hacker does gain access to your security questions, even if she did figure out your dog’s name, it will not work to get into your account.

Purchase Identity Theft Protection

When you think about how many websites have access to your personal data and how many hackers are working hard to access it, it can cause even the most even-keeled person to lose sleep. Fortunately, you can literally purchase peace of mind through an identity theft protection plan from a company like LifeLock. LifeLock, which has partnered with Norton, offers monitoring of personal info, identity misuse scanning, an identity theft restoration team, and state-of-the-art monitoring technology and alert tools. As a bonus, you can use an online coupon for LifeLock that will save you up to 25 percent off your first year of membership.

If you apply for a credit card, LifeLock will text or e-mail you that your name came up in a credit check and, if everything looks good, you can dismiss the alert. But if you didn’t apply for the credit card, open a new bank account or stop by your local car dealership to buy a new car, LifeLock will still let you know every time your personal data is exposed. If identity theft does take place, a U.S.-based identity restoration specialist will handle your case.

Conduct Online Banking Carefully and Cautiously

Online banking and mobile bank apps are a great way to keep tabs on your money, pay bills, and monitor your finances. But just because you can pay your Visa bill while using a public Wi-Fi network, it doesn’t mean you should.

As Security National Bank of South Dakota notes, not all public networks are secure, so never look at any private financial information or take care of bills when you are out in public. If you use banking apps, allow any and all updates as outdated apps are much more likely to be hacked and become victims of data breaches.

Make Your Great-Great Granny Proud

The internet has made life easier in many ways, but it is important to be smart and vigilant about the way you conduct yourself online. By investing in an identity theft protection plan, keeping important names and dates private, and staying off public Wi-Fi, you will continue to enjoy the convenience of online life without the hassle of dealing with hackers.