It’s true — nowhere is safe anymore, especially in the digital space. According to data by Statista, 4.95 billion people worldwide have internet access—62.5 percent of the global population—and 4.62 billion of those individuals use social media. It’s very likely that you or someone you know is part of the figures, and such proof is you being here reading this article. So, how can we protect our online data? Continue reading to find out more.
There are many ways to protect our online data, and many of them are free. Here are 30 ways you can do so:
Tip #1: Create Strong Passwords.
Choose a password that’s at least 12-characters long and uses a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. If possible, avoid using personal information like your name or birth date. A strong password is one that’s hard to guess, but easy for you to remember. This will serve as a good first line of defense against hackers.
Tip #2: Never Use The Same Password on Multiple Accounts.
This might be a good way to remember your passwords, but it’s a bad idea if you want to protect yourself from hackers. If someone cracks one of your accounts, they’ll have access to all of them. You should also avoid using the same password for multiple websites and apps even if they’re unrelated. Instead, create unique passwords for each site or app that you use.
If you can’t keep track of all your accounts, there are password managers that can help. They’ll store all of your passwords in an encrypted file on your computer, so you don’t have to remember them. You only need to remember the one password for the manager itself.
Tip #3: Lock your device.
Leaving a device unlocked can make it easier for hackers to access your information. If you want to lock your device, look for the lock screen button near the bottom of your screen. You can also enable automatic locking in the settings menu under Security.
When there’s little to no opening for hackers to gain access to your device, it’s a lot harder for them to get in. Plus, it’s a good habit you can develop to personally safeguard your information and data privacy.
Tip #4: Always log out of browsers.
Here’s another supposedly tedious task you ought to do: always log out of your browsers. If you’re using a public computer, this means closing your browser and signing off the website you were on before you leave. If that sounds like too much work, consider signing into websites with a secure password manager instead of typing in your credentials every time.
With people going back to on-site workplaces, shared spaces can be a breeding ground for cybercrime. As such, it’s important to be mindful of your online information and how it can be used against you.
This is also crucial for those dealing with other people’s sensitive data, such as IT professionals and HR managers. It’s important to keep your information safe no matter where you are or what device you’re using.
Tip #5: Make sure there is an https in the browser address bar.
The “S” in “HTTPs” stands for secure, which means the data you send between your browser and a website is encrypted. This is just one of the most basic protections against cybercrime. By checking to see if your browser displays an “https” in the address bar, you can ensure that data sent between your computer or mobile device and the website is encrypted. This means hackers won’t be able to intercept it and use it for their own purposes.
Tip #6: Do not log in on personal accounts on free or public wifi.
Open networks can make it easy for people to access or steal your private data, and those who join an open network may be using computers infected with viruses. Think of it as dipping into a public pool with a whole bunch of other people—you don’t know what’s been in the water. And so, either you don’t go in at all or you wear a bathing suit. The same goes for the internet. If you don’t have to use public wifi, don’t. If it’s necessary, avoid logging into your personal accounts (like email or social media) and use an encrypted browser like Tor instead of Chrome or Safari.
Tip #7: Install an Anti-Virus…and update it.
New viruses are created every day, so installing an anti-virus program is not enough. You also have to keep the programs updated in order to combat new threats that emerge continually. Anti-virus programs are not perfect, but they can help protect you from many threats. You should also run regular scans of your computer to make sure that it’s completely clean. As such, don’t just settle for free anti-virus programs. You should look for a reliable program that can catch all kinds of threats, including spyware and adware. Yes, oftentimes, you’ll need to pay a little bit more, but it’s an investment that’s worth your money. You should also make sure that the anti-virus program you choose can be updated automatically so that you don’t have to remember to update it yourself.
Tip #8: Don’t click on pop-ups or virus warnings.
These warnings are now called “scareware,” fake security alerts telling you to click a link to download software that will supposedly remove an infection inside your computer. The links, however, contain viruses and other malware—programs designed specifically for damaging or stealing information on another person’s computer system. This strategy takes advantage of your emotions, a slight panic, enough to convince you to click a link, which will infect your computer with a virus or malware. So when using the internet, make sure that you’re neither emotional nor triggered into clicking on anything that looks suspicious.
Tip #9: Install an ad blocker to lessen browser pop-ups.
Open networks, such as public Wi-Fi connections or those shared by a group of people (like family members or coworkers), make it difficult to know whether the other users have compromised devices. By installing an ad blocker, you can reduce the frequency of browser pop-ups and other advertisements that may try to lure you into clicking on malicious links. This also helps protect against malware that may try to exploit vulnerabilities in your system’s web browser.
These programs differ from anti-virus software because they don’t scan every file you download. Instead, they’re designed to stop ads from appearing on your screen and prevent malware from installing itself without your permission.
Tip #10: Have you been Powned?
Check out Powned Websites to see if you’ve availed of any compromised services on the Internet. If, by any chance, you have—or even suspect that this may be the case—change your passwords immediately.
Pwned websites are websites that have been compromised, often by hackers who have installed malware on them. The term “pwned” is derived from the word “owned,” which means that your account has been taken over by an unauthorized user.
Tip #11: Clean up your Facebook Third-Party Apps.
While they are fun, third-party apps on Facebook can and too often send your personal data to at least 25 outside data companies—so it is definitely a good idea to remove permissions from unnecessary ones.
These apps often send your data to outside data companies, who then resell the information to data brokers. The good news is that you can see exactly what apps have access to your Facebook account by simply going to the Settings page, clicking on “Apps” and then clicking on “Your Apps.” From here, you can see exactly which apps have access to your data. Set the ones you want to keep and click on “Remove” for any others.
Tip #12: Clean up your Facebook Groups.
The more Facebook groups you join — especially the big, open ones —the more likely you are vulnerable to identity thieves. Other members within these groups are not restricted from viewing your primary data.
So unless you want your personal information plastered all over the internet, it’s best to clean up your Facebook groups. Remove yourself from any groups you no longer use, and make sure that only people you know can see your profile by going to “Privacy Settings” and clicking on “Who Can See My Stuff?”
Tip #13: Set up your Facebook Privacy Settings.
Using Facebook privacy settings, you can control who sees information concerning you. You don’t have to share with everyone what you do every minute of the day, especially if it’s sensitive stuff like your real vacation details or bank accounts. Harmless as some of these details may seem, they can be used against you by cybercriminals. The more people know about you, the easier it is for them to steal your identity. So set up your privacy settings so only friends can see what you post and no one else. You can do this by going to Settings, Privacy, and then selecting who can see the things you post.
Tip #14: Unfriend Facebook friends you don’t know personally.
This one’s a no-brainer. If you don’t know the person in real life, there’s probably no reason for them to be on your friends list. Unfriending someone doesn’t mean you’ll never see their posts; it just means they won’t show up on your news feed anymore and vice versa.
Scammers are using information from social-networking sites to create duplicate accounts for people whose identities they can steal. These bogus accounts are used in various cyber attacks, including identity theft and spamming.
Tip #15: Update your Facebook Timeline and Tagging Settings.
Don’t get caught in an embarrassing situation. Update your Facebook Timeline and Tagging Settings. You can control who sees what you post on their timelines and who can tag you in photos or videos.
Of course, you can untag yourself from posts and photos that you don’t want on your Timeline—but why suffer the embarrassment of having to remove things later? Keep control of what ends up on your profile by setting your account so that only people who are allowed to tag you can do it.
Tip #16: Don’t be too public.
Some people need to be reminded that Facebook is a public website. It’s not just an online diary, but a place where anyone can see what you’re doing and saying. If you don’t want everyone to know about your personal life, then make sure that only friends are able to see what you post—even if it’s on your personal profile.
It can be fun and exciting to share details about your life online, but there are some things that should never—and must never—be shared. Home addresses, vacation plans and details like plane tickets or gate numbers should all remain private.
Tip #17: Check and clean up your spam folder.
A spam folder is an area in your inbox where email providers place messages that look like spam. It’s important to periodically check this folder so that you can remove any emails that aren’t really spam but have been mistakenly placed there. This is especially important if you use Gmail as your email provider, since they automatically put emails in the spam folder unless they are marked as “not spam”.
However, be wary of emails that come from people you don’t know, use poor spelling or contain common spam phrases (like “come see this video”), and make offers that seem too good to be true. Also, avoid clicking on any attachments with a filename ending in .exe
Tip #18: Be wary of phishing emails.
What is phishing? Phishing is an attempt to get you to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, by posing as a legitimate company or organization.
Phishing emails often look like they come from your bank or another company that handles your finances. They may ask for your user name and password or even send you a link that claims to take you to their website but directs you somewhere else entirely.
Phishing criminals typically send emails to thousands of people, pretending to come from banks, credit card companies and online shops in order to trick you into going to the fake site by convincing them they are real. They then get personal information such as your log-in details and credit card numbers, which they can use to steal money from your accounts or buy goods with your cards.
Tip #19: Avoid using work e-mail addresses for personal matters.
You may be used to using your work email address to contact friends, family and other people you know personally. This can be a security risk because it makes it easy for hackers to get hold of your personal information. They may send you a phishing email that appears to come from work; if you click on the link, it directs you to a fake website where criminals steal passwords and credit card details.
Using your work e-mail account for personal matters can be risky. Your company’s IT staff and bosses may have access to the address, or people could find it listed on your website if you include that information there.
Tip #20: Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters.
There’s such a thing as FOMO or Fear of Missing Out. It’s the feeling that you can’t afford to miss out on any opportunities, which means keeping up with all of your favorite companies’ newsletters and social media updates. But when you’re getting bombarded with information about products, services and events that don’t interest you (or worse, are irrelevant to your life), it can be overwhelming. If this happens to you, take control by unsubscribing from those email lists and disabling push notifications on mobile apps like Facebook.
Unsubscribing from that ridiculously long e-mail list your friend made you join would greatly improve both the aesthetic quality and safety of your inbox.
Tip #21: Clean up your Browser Extensions.
Browser extensions are small programs that can be added to your browser to add additional functionality. These range from ad blockers and password managers to extensions that remove social media buttons and help you save money on Amazon. However, they can also contain security vulnerabilities or track user data without their knowledge.
Be cautious about the extensions you install for your browser; these pieces of code can customize your user experience but are also dangerous if left unchecked in the hands of malicious people who want to track your browsing or capture passwords and private data.
Tip #22: Delete your Browsing Data.
If you’re working from home or are on the computer often, it’s a good idea to clear your browsing data from time to time. This can be done by opening the privacy settings and clicking “clear history.” You’ll also be allowed to delete cookies and other data that could compromise your privacy if they fall into the wrong hands.
Cookies on your browsers help you track passwords and usernames, but they can also be used to track your activity, interests, preferences—and personal information. Clear browsing data regularly to keep unwanted eyes off of it.
Tip #23: Uninstall unwanted programs from your PC.
As with your PC or device, less is definitely more. You don’t have to install every program that comes your way. Even if it’s free, there’s no guarantee that it will be worth your time and effort. Uninstall any unwanted programs from your PC or device to keep them from taking up space and slowing down your system.
If you have an adware program on your computer, it may display advertisements or fake warnings when you visit certain web pages. You can easily audit your device of these unwanted programs by going to Control Panel > Programs and Features. You’ll see a list of installed programs, including ones you’ve installed yourself, which you can uninstall if they’re not needed anymore.
Tip #24: Back up your files and data.
It’s important to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If you have important files and data on your computer, back them up so that you won’t lose anything if something goes wrong. For example, if you store photos or videos on your computer’s hard drive, consider making copies of those files onto a flash drive or external hard drive.
Ransomware, or malicious software that takes over your computer and threatens to wipe out all the data on it unless you pay a ransom, is proliferating through phishing e-mails and pop-up ads.
Tip #25: Keep your software up-to-date.
Have you had those system update notifications in the middle of the day, when you’re trying to get work done? Software updates are important! They can fix bugs, patch security holes and ensure that your software is compatible with new versions of Windows. To make things easier, Microsoft has introduced an “Automatic Updates” feature that automatically downloads and installs software updates on your PC without any action from you.
Software updates are critical for any device that uses software, including PCs and iPhones—these updates fix security flaws that hackers can exploit. Legitimate software and devices must be updated with the latest security patches to protect against malware and other cyber-attacks. So, you must keep your devices up-to-date with the latest software updates.
Tip #26: Check and use firewalls.
You might have heard of firewalls before, but do you know what they are and why they’re important? Firewalls help protect your computer from malicious software. A firewall is basically a barrier between you and the Internet, preventing hackers from accessing your data or installing programs that could harm your PC. Most computers come with a built-in firewall—it usually has an icon that looks like a brick wall. You should enable automatic updates to ensure that your computer always has Windows installed as soon as possible.
Firewalls are network security systems that monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined rules. Keep yours up, or it could cost you.
Tip #27: Secure your wireless network.
Everything is going wireless these days —even your laptop. This can be a good thing, but you need to make sure that your wireless network is secure. Hackers can use wireless networks to access the Internet without being noticed by security software installed on your computer.
Strong passwords and encryption will help keep your wireless network secure. You can check how many devices are connected to your network by connecting with them directly. If there are more than you’d expect, it’s time to change all the passwords on those machines—and yours too!
Tip #28: Store personal and financial documents securely.
You may keep several files containing personal and financial information on your computer. You should ensure that these files are encrypted or password-protected so that if someone gets a hold of them, they can’t access the information inside. Make sure you have backups of these files in case anything happens to your computer and the data gets lost.
Never access your personal and financial documents when using a computer in an internet cafe or other public setting. Additionally, save extra-sensitive files in one folder, compress it with a password to keep out prying eyes, and then delete the original folder for good measure.
Tip #29: Be mindful of devices with company data on them.
With the current remote work setup, you’re likely to have a company-issued laptop or smartphone. These devices may have access to sensitive information, so it’s important to be mindful of what you store on them. If you have home work computer access, don’t use that for personal activities.
It goes without saying that you should respect your boss and clients’ data privacy as much as—if not more than—you respect your own. Never open confidential files for work on public computers; treat devices containing these files with extra care.
Tip #30: Pass this on. Help your loved ones love themselves
Now that you’ve learned about some of the ways you can protect yourself from identity theft and fraud, help your loved ones do the same. Make sure they know what to look for and how to spot it, so that your family is safe from identity thieves online.
Give your friends and family a hand by introducing them to good personal data privacy practices so they can stay safe off—and online.
Video: PSST! in Social Media
It’s no secret that many of us spend a lot of time on social media, and that’s why it’s so important to protect yourself when using it.
Did you know that there are 67 million active Filipino social media users? And on average, Filipinos spend almost 4 hours on social media daily.
That means it’s also important for you to take proper precautions when using social media. Share this video with your friends so they can protect themselves too!
Ano nga ba ang #DataPrivacy?
Here’s a video discussing the importance of data privacy and what you can do to ensure that your data is private. If you have any questions about data privacy, make sure to check out the FAQs below!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Data Privacy Act?
The 2012 Data Privacy Act provides protection to all types of personal and privileged information that can be collected and stored. It covers individuals, regardless of their juridical or natural status. It also applies to companies and juridical entities that process protected information.
2. How many people can be harmed by data privacy?
It is important to note that the maximum penalty for unauthorized access and use of a person’s personal information is usually severe. This applies to cases involving harm to over a hundred individuals.
3. What is the Republic Act 10173?
The Data Privacy Act of 2012 is a powerful piece of legislation that aims to protect the privacy of individuals’ personal information. It applies to various types of businesses, including banks, finance companies, and educational and human resources organizations.
4. Why is information technology important?
The information age has created a vital role for technology in the nation-building process. The ability to gather and distribute information is a powerful force that can be used to improve the country’s development. From a macroeconomic perspective, free flow of information is very important to the growth of any nation.
5. Does the Data Privacy Act punish negligence?
Unlike previous laws, the Data Privacy Act makes it clear that failure to safeguard the confidentiality of information can result in severe penalties. It also only comes into effect once a large-scale violation has been established.
6. Does the Data Privacy Act of 2012 apply to individuals?
Despite the Act’s stated intention to protect the privacy of individuals and citizens, it does not preclude the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information in the Philippines. This is because the information that individuals and citizens provide is the whole of which the Act protects. This means that access to this information is covered by the same level of protection that is given to trade secrets held by multinational corporations and global conglomerates.
Social media has become part of our everyday life. It’s easy to forget that the posts we share, photos we take, and connections we make are not private. In fact, the information that you post on social media can be accessed by anyone. This is why it is very important for individuals and citizens to know their rights when using social media in the Philippines.
Moreover, by familiarizing yourself with the above tips, you can better protect yourself from cyber criminals who may want to steal your information. Remember: You are not the only one at risk. Your family and friends can also be affected by your actions. Therefore, practising caution in using social media in the Philippines is important. Protecting your data and privacy are just a few of the benefits that come with being a responsible social media user.
DISCLAIMER: This post is intended for informational purposes only. If you have any questions or concerns about data protection and privacy rights, please consult with a qualified legal professional.