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3 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information Online

By Rose Haywood

You put more personal information online than you may think and you may be doing that unintentionally. Signing up for a contest, shopping online for the holidays, and online banking can create easy avenues for hackers to get the details they need about your online ID.

With so many companies and services moving to online-only mediums, it’s hard not to put some of your information out there to get the services you need.

Here are three easy-to-follow rules that can help safeguard your ID and personal information from prying eyes.

1) Avoid free Wi-Fi

You can get a wireless connection to the Internet almost anywhere these days. But don’t be fooled by the convenience of free Internet access. Open Wi-Fi networks make it easy for hackers to gain access to your computer – and ultimately, your private information.

Play it safe when you’re at the airport, bookstore or coffee shop – locations that typically offer customers access to their Wi-Fi network for free. It’s far better to wait until you’re on your secure home network than risk being hacked while you’re out and about.

If you find yourself in a jam and need to get on a Wi-Fi network that isn’t secure, here are a few tips to protect yourself:

     Don’t log into websites that have personal information – especially bank accounts

     Log out of an account after you have completed your task. Keep in mind that closing your browser doesn’t always log you out of an account.

     Download a browser extension to block someone trying to access your information. HTTPS Everywhere is a popular Chrome extension. For Firefox users, Ghostery is a popular add-on to block anyone tracking you online.

2) Be cautious when banking online

Online banking has become an everyday occurrence. And to the banks’ credit, they do keep a fairly tight control over their servers and security networks. However, hackers have been able to breach their security before, and banks haven’t been much help in explaining DDoS (distributed denial of service) to their customers. If you’ve ever been unable to access your online account, the chances are high it’s because of a DDoS – essentially when multiple hackers send too much traffic to a site and shut it down for actual consumers.

Not only can this experience cause frustration, it also is a warning that your account information could be compromised and that hackers are phishing for your information. Always remember that banks will never email you asking for you to verify your log-in or password. Should you ever receive a pop-up message or email asking for this type of sensitive information, contact your bank immediately to report the attempted phishing.

3) Keep your operating system and malware protection up to date

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