You might have heard these before but never knew why they were so important. Why does Facebook want my phone number? Why do I have to change my password again? They seem like small nuisances, but they can make a big difference in protecting your data and your friends.

 

Get creative with your passwords

It’s a pain when you are asked to come up with a password with requirements like “must have more than 8 characters and please include a sign such as @#!-.”  But they want you to get creative. Too many people have the password 123ABC and they use it for every account they have. It makes you vulnerable. If you are worried you won’t remember the password try to think of a common phrase you use. The longer the better. You can also use a password app that will protect your passwords and even generate hard to crack passwords so you don’t have to think them up yourself.

 

Read links before you click on them

If a friend gets hacked and you get a message from them saying like, “Check out this picture of you!!!” with a link attached you might want to stop and consider. Have I talked to this person recently? Do they messages like this? Then read the link. Is it a link you recognize, or it something close like Fb.co. If you aren’t sure you can always just text that person and make sure the message was sent by them.

 

Stranger Danger

If a site asks for your info make sure to check that there is a closed lock in the left of the URL. The lock and https show that everything is going over a secure line and your privacy is being respected.

 

Unlike web browser, emails are never secure. Sadly, they are very easy to hack from a third party and that means you should NEVER send anyone your bank info, social security number, or any other sensitive information.

 

Same goes for open/free wifi. If you are using the free wifi at the coffee shop it is really easy for hackers to see what you are doing on the open wifi. You can invest in a VPN and it can hide your activity.

 

Update!

Most people think that updating is a hassle. It takes a long time and it might change the interface of your device and no one likes change. However, each update is fixing holes that either developers or hackers found. In fact, many hospitals have been hacked around the world just because they didn’t update their software and it left their patients vulnerable. Some updates can even increase your battery life. So keep your devices happy and healthy and update.

 

Share your phone number

Most cases when a site asks for your phone number it’s to Enable two-factor authentication. This means if you forgot your password or if you are logging in from a computer that they do not recognize they can message you a code to prove that it’s you. Without this protective measure, it can be very hard to prove that you are in fact you. For instance, if you get locked out of LinkedIn without two-factor authentication you have to go to to a notary. So, if you think updating your laptop is hard…  

 

Some of these things can seem like a pain, and you might think “Well I have never been hacked before so I don’t need to change.” Keep in mind that once that info is taken you can’t get it back and starting over is a lot harder than the steps mentioned above. So go out, have fun, think twice, and always backup your files.