The new year is the perfect time to get a fresh start online, especially when it comes to your privacy.
“Burying your head in the sand and thinking ‘well, I can’t achieve privacy because nobody can these days so I’m not going to bother’ and that’s a huge mistake,” started Hayley Kaplan, a privacy expert. She recommends taking the time to protect yourself as best you can.
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You’re not going to be 100 percent failsafe, but you can at least take steps to make it a little harder to invade your privacy [and] to harm you,” said Kaplan.
First up: your phone. Delete any apps you no longer need or use.
Then, do the same for old online accounts. You can use the directory at JustDelete.me to help you find the directions to close them out or the direct link to shut them down.
One good resolution to make this year: use strong passwords, no exceptions.
“People are being hacked all the time… so you want very safe passwords… long, random letters,” said Kaplan.
The best way to accomplish this is by using a password manager. This is an app or software that can generate complicated passwords and remember them. Sixteen characters are the magic number and there’s no way you’ll remember those, so the password manager will also log in to websites and apps for you.
Bitwarden is a good free option for this.
Next, look to see if any third-party apps have access to your biggest online accounts like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Apps and websites can sneak their way in when you use these services to login to other websites or allow an app to access your data.
You can find Google’s third-party access page here.
You can find Twitter’s Connected Apps page here.
You can find Instagram’s under Settings, then Apps and Websites.
You can find Facebook’s under Settings, Security and Login, then Apps and Websites.
Go through and revoke access to any app that you no longer need or recognize.
Speaking of Facebook…
“What I’m finding is that a lot of those old posts are coming back and haunting people,” said Kaplan.
It’s best to go through every single Facebook privacy setting manually and adjust as needed, but you’re not going to do that. At the very least, use Facebook’s Privacy Checkup tool. You can find it here. Use it to help restrict who can see your stuff and keep your account secure.
The most important thing you can do to keep your accounts secure from hackers is to enable Two Factor Authentication on all your accounts. This website can help with that.
Finally, to better protect your privacy as you surf the web, I recommend installing two browser extensions.
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