In today’s digital age, hackers are more of a threat than ever before. With so much of our personal data shared online through social media, online shopping, and various websites, your private information could potentially be accessed and exploited by one of these hackers. To best protect yourself, it’s important to learn the many ways that you can protect this information. Check out these expert tips for protecting your private information online.

Watch Out for Phishing Emails

A phishing email is one that’s sent under false pretenses in an effort to obtain your private information. These manipulative tactics are often used by hackers on unsuspecting Internet users. A message from someone purporting to be a friend or trusted organization could actually be a hacker trying to gain access to your personal info. Always be careful about passing along private details online. Call up a friend to find out whether it’s really him or her contacting you, and only provide personal data through official websites, not via email. In addition, The Guardian advises Internet users to avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments in these emails because they could potentially infect your computer with a virus or malware.

Choose Passwords Carefully

A password is the key to your personal data, so choosing a good one is critical for proper protection. This is particularly important in certain fields such as the banking and healthcare industries. For example, the health informatics program at UIC Online teaches future healthcare tech professionals about the best practices for protecting consumer information in medical facilities, insurance companies, and pharmacies. However, you can also do your part by choosing a strong password. Tech website HackMac recommends using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to create a unique password that’s difficult to decrypt. Of course, you should also avoid using any words or numbers in your password that might be easy for hackers to guess, such as the name of your child, your birth date, or your address.

Safely Dispose of Electronics

According to the Federal Trade Commission, disposing of a computer or mobile device requires special steps to ensure that all information on these devices has actually been deleted. If you plan on disposing of an electronic device with personal information, make sure that you check your owner’s manual or use a wipe utility program to completely remove any private data.

Protect Your Health Information

Though the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects your health information when it is in the hands of health care providers and health insurers, it’s important to be aware of how vulnerable this information can be in your own hands. Programs such as UIC Online‘s health informatics teach future healthcare professionals how to protect your info, but you can also help protect it from medical identity thieves trying to get your health insurance information to obtain medical treatment or prescription drugs. Always use smart passwords for accessing your healthcare information online, and don’t share any healthcare information on unauthorized sites.

Don’t Overshare on Social Sites

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another social networking site, it’s best to be cautious about what you share with others. Never post your address, full birth date, phone number, or other personal information on publicly accessible sites. You should also be careful about posting too much information about your current location. Believe it or not, some burglars have actually used Facebook status updates about going on vacation to decide when to rob homes. In addition to not sharing personal info, you should also limit who you’re friends with online. Don’t accept friend requests from strangers, and make sure that your privacy settings prevent those who aren’t approved friends from seeing your information.

Protecting your information online may seem like a daunting task, but if you take the time to set up the proper protections for your accounts, it can become a mostly passive task. Use the tips shared here to protect your information from dangerous hackers, and keep your personal information private when using the Web.

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