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Protect Yourself Online: What Not to Share

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There are numerous ways to protect your family — physically, emotionally, financially and, yes, even digitally. With the prevalence of smartphones, smart homes and smart accessories, it’s easier now than ever before for someone to get your private information online.

From the tech gurus who keep the USCCA secure, here are a few tips for staying safe online:

  1. Clear your cache, cookies and history when closing your browser.
  2. Try browsing in an incognito/private browser, which will automatically clear the history and everything else for you.
  3. Auto-generate passwords and store them with a great password manager (LastPass, 1Password, etc.). Do not use a built-in browser password manager.
  4. Use ad blockers. Just know that some sites limit access to people who are blocking their ads.
  5. Use something like Privacy.com to create virtual credit cards so you can prevent your real credit card from being stolen.
  6. Set up disposable/temporary emails to prevent spam and phishing emails.
  7. Consider a virtual mailing address for all of the packages you order online.
  8. Use very few or zero browser plugins unless you know they’re safe.
  9. Be cautious of what you send over free WiFi.
  10. Always keep any operating systems, browsers and anti-virus/anti-malware as up-to-date as possible, though be careful with operating system updates. Use caution with large updates, as they may be buggy. Waiting a month or so before installing the large update will help avoid anything breaking.

Stay Up to Date

Browsers and apps change, grow and die continually depending on the features, support and security they offer the public that uses them.

For example, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 11 is no longer supported by Microsoft. For your online safety, it’s time to choose a different web browser that has the security features you need and that is still being supported and updated by its manufacturer.

If you use products like Alexa or Google Home, know that for all of their conveniences, the devices can be hacked. (Find out more in this conversation on the USCCA Online Community.) You can see what’s in your Alexa history and remove it in your Alexa iPhone app > Settings > Alexa Privacy.

Your kids’ smartphones, gaming systems and computers can also present a risk. Review your digital-safety plan with your family the same way you review your home-safety plans with them.

There is a balance to be had between digital safety and living your life. Changing your passwords, reviewing your app histories, continually learning and accounting for the risks will help you stay safe online and protect your family’s private information.

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