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10 tips to keep your data private online

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The Internet has become an essential tool for most of us and a part of our everyday lives. We rely on it to send/receive emails, post/share photos and messages on social networking sites, shop for clothes, search for information, etc. But how do all these online activities affect your privacy?

Your online privacy depends on your ability to control both the amount of personal information that you provide and who has access to that information. Unfortunately, some of us are too casual and careless with how we manage our personal information and activities online. This leaves us vulnerable to identity theft and invasion of our privacy, both from legitimate and illegitimate sources.

That’s because your personal information, including your email address, phone number and Social Security number and other personally identifiable information, is worth a lot of money. The bad guys will use it to steal from you and businesses want to know as much about you as possible so they can sell you more products and services or serve you ads that are highly relevant to your demographics and preferences.

So take these simple steps to protect your valuable personal information:

  1. Be careful what you share and post online. Remember, don’t post or share anything that you wouldn’t want shared publically, even if you think you’re just sending it to one person.
  2. Don’t freely give out personal information online any more than you would to a stranger on the street. Keep personal information (such as your hometown, birth date with year and phone number) off social networks.
  3. Don’t send any sensitive information when connecting over public Wi-Fi (e.g. don’t do banking or shop online)
  4. Use private browsing mode on your Internet browser or at least turn off your browser cookies.
  5. Never reply to spam or unknown messages, whether by email, text, IM or social networking posts from people you don’t know—especially if it’s for an offer that sounds too good to be true.
  6. Only friend or connect with people online you know in real life.
  7. Make sure when you’re providing any personal information online that the site uses encryption (look for https:// in the URL) and check to see how they are using your personal data in their privacy policy.
  8. Be aware of location services with your smartphone or tablet. Turn off the GPS on your mobile device’s camera and only allow
  9. Routinely update your social media privacy settings to ensure your profile is appropriately protected and also make sure to change your passwords on your accounts at least 3x a year.
  10. Make sure all your devices are protected with comprehensive security, like McAfee LiveSafe™ service that provides not only antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing, anti-spam and a firewall, but also protects your data and identity on your PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets.

Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.

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