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How to protect yourself online 

As digital thieves are picking up their game, you need to boost your defenses online. The best defense begins with a great offense.

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Before widespread Internet access, most people knew their privacy was relatively safe. Now, with smartphones, apps, social media, online banking, shopping, and access to all financial and banking accounts, that privacy isn’t a guarantee anymore. However, despite regular reports of security breaches, you can boost your online privacy.

Ditch Chrome

Many of the web browsers you use are tracking your every move. Google keeps records of everything you do, from the websites you visit, your physical location, internet service provider, and more. Other popular browsers do the same things, but with more limitations and they offer the option to turn off tracking. You can add a simple fix here by changing to a private browsing application. 

Disable Your Phone’s Location Services 

It’s not just Google’s browser and other services that are tracking your movements. All digital devices, including smartphones, have location services that help improve your experience. While these are excellent for 911, GPS, and finding a nearby gas station while on vacation, they aren’t necessary and by turning them off, you can improve your digital security. Additionally, users can go to their history for Google and other tracking apps and delete the content. 

Many of these apps, as well as any new ones you add, will ask permission to turn on tracking services, if you choose this, you may have to go through all the services individually again to delete information and turn off features. 

Use Secure Folders

Most devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and personal computers offer secure folders that offer additional security through password protection and encryption. You can add content and additional apps you want to keep private in secure folders, which may have different names depending on the brand. For Windows 10 devices, you can encrypt any file and folder through its properties, using Microsoft’s encrypted file service (EFS) as long as you’re signed in as the administrator. 

Don’t Use Your Cellular Provider’s Messaging Service 

Text messaging is great for chatting with friends and family members, it’s not the most secure platform for sensitive information. If you’re using an iPhone, you have built-in options for messaging with other Apple brand users, but not for outside communications. Many people are turning to other applications for better security. 

Once you choose a different service, store the app in a secure folder to add an extra layer of protection. With these new options, your conversations and any private information you share is much safer than it is with text messaging and other chat apps, such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, Snapchat, and Slack.

The best options are applications that offer end-to-end encryption, such as Signal, Wickr, and WhatsApp. This technology scrambles messages so only the end users can read them. Even better, apps like Signal allows each end-user to set their messages to expire after a certain time and no one will see them.

As digital thieves are picking up their game, you need to boost your defenses online. The best defense begins with a great offense. If you’re actively protecting yourself online, it’s harder for hackers and other criminals to steal your personal information. 

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