We use the internet every day for different tasks- shopping, paying bills, messaging, socializing or simply surfing. No matter where you go online, there may be some risk to your personal information.
There are a number of safety precautions you can take to protect your personal information online. Along with security and anti-virus programs for your computer, try these hands-on strategies to take charge of your online privacy.
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Protect your usernames and passwords
The most common way to get into secure areas online, is to have a username and password. Protect your usernames and passwords to keep your personal information safe. Make sure to:
- keep your username, password and security questions and answers private
- change your password regularly
- use different passwords for each website you join
- use a password for your online bank account that is different from all your other online passwords
- use complex passwords:
- include special characters in your password (e.g. &*$%)
- mix up numbers so they are not in order (e.g.: 1432 instead of:1234)
- use unusual words instead of “password”, “welcome”, your pet’s name, names of family members or sports teams, holidays or other notable dates like your birthday
Be careful of public Wi-Fi networks
Public spaces such as an airport or your local coffee house often offer convenient Wi-Fi hotspots. However, public Wi-Fi networks may not be secure. If you use websites or mobile apps on public Wi-Fi, your information could be seen or accessed by someone else.
When you use a wireless hotspot or public Wi-Fi, look for “https” at the start of a web address. This means the website is protected by encryption. Every time you go to a new page on a website, make sure to look for “https” so that you know your information is secure.
Keep track of your apps on your mobile device
Do you use public Wi-Fi on your phone or mobile device? When you use mobile apps, it’s difficult to know if they are protected with encryption.
To reduce risk, use your apps that need personal information (like a credit card number) only on a secure network. Also, you may want to change your mobile settings to prevent automatically connecting to a nearby Wi-Fi public network.
Manage your email: don’t send personal information
At Canada Post, we take the security of our email network seriously. If you get an email from Canada Post that asks for personal information, such as account username or credit card number, don’t respond. Canada Post will never ask for personal information to fix a problem with an existing account.
If you receive an email asking to send Canada Post your personal information, please call the Canada Post Customer Service Department to let us know.
Be careful of scam messages, viruses and phishing scams
Sometimes you may get email or text messages asking you to download a program or open an attachment.
If you don’t recognize who sent you the message, leave the attachment alone- it may contain a virus. You might also get an email or other communication asking for your personal information to fix a problem with another account. This technique is called “phishing”. You may be asked to send:
- a password
- an account number, or
- other personal information
Protect yourself from a phishing scam. Check the email address in the “from” header- if it looks suspicious, delete it. Also, look for spelling mistakes and be suspicious of any urgent subject lines such as “account suspended”.
What measures do you take to keep your personal information safe online?
Share your tips and strategies in the comments below: