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Nowadays, almost everyone is online with all kinds of profiles, from social networking sites to job sites, music and video streaming, banking, and so on.
Most sites require you to set up a profile to use the features and tools they offer. With this, you are putting some of your most important personal information on the internet, such as your middle name, contact numbers, email address, and even bank account details.
Diligently checking and maintaining your profile’s security is essential to prevent hacking. Breaches often lead to the spread of incorrect information and leaking of personal information, which can affect your personal and professional life, so online security precautions and preventive measures must be taken seriously.
Here are five things you can do to keep your online profiles secure.
1) Keep Your Passwords Varied—and Secret
Passwords, passwords, passwords. You might be getting tired of thinking about new passwords or having a hard time remembering them. But passwords are the first line of defense for your online profile’s safety. They are designed to keep profiles private, so it is best to put effort into them and not share passwords with anyone.
A good password should be difficult to guess. Keep it unusual and unpredictable. There are rules for generating and remembering a strong password, like not using common words or character combinations and using a password manager or writing it down to remember them.
Also, avoid using your name and birthdate in a password and do not use a single password for all your accounts. This will make it too easy for hackers to open your profile.
Keep your passwords logical and strategic. It is advisable to use longer passwords with eight or more characters in them. You should also include numbers and symbols when possible.
2) Be Careful What You Share
People share almost everything on social media: family photos, vacation details, major life events, even the simplest thought that crosses their mind. If you are one of them, you must consider your habits and regulate what you post.
Social media posts give off information that might be unnoticeable for you but can actually provide clues on your personal information and online activities.
Without even realizing it, you might be sharing your home and work location, daily routine, financial habits/situation, friends and family’s locations, and other details that can compromise your online profile’s security.
Be vigilant and mindful. Avoid geotagging and set profiles to “private” so only people you approve can see what you post. Also, avoid connecting social media accounts with one another when possible so perpetrators will not easily get a hold of all your accounts at once.
3) Turn Off Ad Tracking
When you visit sites, you will often see a pop-up notification asking if you will accept cookies from them. These cookies are actually used to track your activity. Cookies can use it to measure the impact of ads on your browsing, which companies can then use to provide you with targeted ads when you visit other sites.
This is ad tracking. Companies are actually gathering information about you, but the good thing is that there are ways to opt out of online tracking.
You can tweak your browser’s settings, clear all cookies, and turn on private browsing mode. For smartphones, you can modify your privacy settings to reset ad identifiers, disable location and turn off personalized ads. You can also use ad-blocking apps if there are still ads that seem too invasive.
4) Use Antivirus and Antimalware Software
Malware is any kind of malicious software, while a virus is a type of malware that spreads to a device by introducing its code to programs. Whichever you encounter, malware and viruses pose various types of danger to your accounts and devices.
Malware is designed to gather private information or allow a third party to access your device and your online profiles, causing data breaches. Meanwhile, viruses corrupt your devices’ content and can make your accounts inaccessible as well.
Hackers use malware to get control of your profiles, post content that damages your reputation or steals your information. They can even steal money, use your credit card details, or make purchases using your account.
Installing antivirus software and anti-malware are among the important steps that you can take to avoid viruses and malware. You should also beware of phishing emails or unexpected messages online with links that might lead you to install malware.
Attachments with EXE, HLP, LNK, MDB, MDE, URL, or VBE extension names may be installers that are possible malware. So use reliable antivirus software to scan your device and everything you download to keep your accounts safe.
5) Turn To Professionals
Managing all your profiles’ security can be overwhelming. If you are particularly concerned or have already experienced a hack, leak, or spreading of inaccurate information, the best way to go is to get professional help as soon as possible.
There are specialists dedicated to providing cybersecurity to individuals who can help secure your profiles and guide you on maintaining strong online profile security. You can defend your profiles with professional reputation management services. They can trace your digital footprint, identify harmful content, and help you rebuild and strengthen your online reputation.
Keep Your Profiles Safe
Despite all sites’ privacy and security guarantees, all your online profiles are still at very high risk. Hackers are constantly finding new ways to bypass security features, so be vigilant when it comes to your online presence. Make it a regular habit to check and update your security settings. As the owner of your online profiles, it is still your responsibility to keep them safe and secure at all times.