Here are four practical privacy practices to implement now:
- Be password smart. Don't use the same password for everything. Create strong passwords, including uppercase and lowercase letters, spacing, punctuation and symbols whenever possible. Some sources encourage using a sentence as an effective password, but I still encourage incorporating those various elements of uppercase and lowercase letters along with symbols within whatever sentence you utilize. Then, change each password regularly, whether monthly or quarterly.
- Be consistent in where you keep your passwords. You can handwrite them in a book, have them printed out from a spreadsheet, save them in your smartphone's notes or enter them in an online password management app; however, please do not rely on your memory nor leave them written on sticky notes attached to your computer screen. My clients have had great success using Dashlane, Roboform, SplashID, Sticky Password and 1Password, but utilize the option with which you feel most comfortable. If you take the route of using a password management application, feel free to use your email to pull any existing passwords associated with that email and, then, move at whatever pace you prefer uploading others.
- Use two-factor authentication. Since many social media platforms and other tools link your accounts there to your email account, activate two-step verification within whichever email you utilize. When attempting to log into whatever account has two-step verification activated, you'll be texted a code that must be entered to proceed; this gives an extra layer of security to protect your account information and alerts you when someone else tries to login as you.
- Protect your information. Don't over-share on social media, particularly when it comes to announcing when you are traveling, and limit what personal details are posted that can be tracked back to answers you'd give for security questions. Be careful with whom you share passwords, your social security number, your birthdate, credit card numbers and any identifying data. Never send anyone your social security number or credit card information via email.