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In this second part of our two-part online security series, we’re going over five more simple things you can do to protect yourself and your information online—because let’s face it, our lives are online. Even if your whole life isn’t online, some parts have to be. Keep reading for more tips.

#6: Passcodes

There are a lot of situations presented to us where we can set a passcode if we want, but we often choose not to. Maybe we don’t see the point, or we don’t want to have to remember something else, but you should use one whenever possible. All it’s doing is adding another layer of security to your online presence. 

A popular example here is the iPhone. It allows you to set a four or six digit passcode to get into your phone, and a lot of people opt out of this option. But think about how much information is on your phone! It’s not just contacts and text messages anymore—you have bank information, email accounts, payment apps, everything. Take your security a little further and set a custom passcode—record it in your password manager so you don’t have to remember it. 

#7: Pay with Your Phone

The credit card system isn’t as secure as it could be—which isn’t your fault, but there is something you can do to help. Using Apple Pay or an Android equivalent wherever you can is a lot more secure than whipping out your credit card! There are tons of choices when it comes to payment apps on your phone, all with different sets of benefits and drawbacks. 

They’re usually very simple to set up. You’ll start by taking a picture of your credit card (this is used to back up your app-based payments) and with a lot of apps, that’s it! You can ask your bank about one-time use card numbers, too. For example, Bank of America’s app ShopSafe lets you create a 16-digit number and an expiry date. You decide when you want those numbers to expire. Apps like Abine Blur can mask your credit card info, so when you’re shopping online the merchant doesn’t receive your actual card numbers. 

#8: Don’t Take the Bait

The term “click bait” refers to a lot more than vine compilation videos and startling headlines—it also refers to links in emails, messaging apps, and on Facebook. Phishing links will look like secure websites, in the hopes that you’ll give them valuable information.

Be picky about what you click. Don’t click on links in emails or texts, unless you know the source. Most email platforms do a pretty good job of letting you know when you have an email from someone outside of your organization or contact list. Gmail can even scan attachments for viruses. But even sources you know can be compromised. If you get a strange email late at night from your boss asking you to complete an urgent—but unnamed—task, and there’s a link, throw that thing out. If that’s just how your boss is, of course, still give them a call to be sure. Tell them they act just like spam. Your gut is usually right with these things—if something seems off, it probably is. 

#9: Clear that Cache

Your browser’s cache knows you very, very well. It’s full of saved cookies from all your favorite websites, search history, web history, family information, and other personal data. It’s a good idea to clear your cache fairly regularly. There’s a lot of important info just sitting around in your web history, so it’s good to keep it tidy. 

Thankfully, major browsers make it easy. With most of them, you can simply press Ctrl+Shift+Del and some options will pop up. Decide which elements of your browser data you want to clear. Of course, clearing ‘em all results in the most thorough cleanout, but sometimes you want to keep some of those cookies. Clearing everything could mean that you lose some personalization you’ve applied in the past. Most browsers, though, will let you list your favorite websites, and they won’t throw those cookies out when you clean things up. 

#10: Don’t be Too Social

Social media is awesome. It gives you access to entertainment, information, and connection all around the world—but you can connect too much. You might know this already, but Facebook knows a lot about you. In fact, you’d probably be surprised to know just how much they know. You can actually download your Facebook data to see exactly what they know. Every time you take a quiz to find out what kind of bread you are, Facebook learns more about you. 

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of websites have an option to “login in with Facebook” but that’s not a great idea. The more accounts you link together, the fuller the ship will be if it sinks. Always, always think twice before you share something on social media. Authenticity is important, and we’re sure your followers want to see the real you! But you never know who’s looking for certain information, so keep important things private. 

Looking for more tips on staying secure in cyberspace? We’ve got them all. Start a conversation with Bytesize today.

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