What’s Your Social Security Number?

No, I’m not talking about that number you may be thinking of. I am talking about your online security and how you’re keeping you and your family safe. Every day our lives are more and more online. We connect with people we know and live online through various means. 

Many of us think that we are keeping ourselves safe online when we should be more careful.  We often fail to understand or realize all of the information we are freely giving out. Protecting the information that we share online is as crucial as protecting our own Social Security Numbers. 

What can we do to keep ourselves safe online? One of the best ways is to be wary of what information you are sharing. One example is the many “games” on social media that ask you questions in order to “predict” your future. If you pay attention to the questions that these games ask you, you will start to see that they often line up equally to questions that you would use when you are setting a security question. 

With this information, these games are now able to put together a profile about you based on your answers along with information from your social media account. Your information is then sold to the highest bidder. 

What are some of the best practices you can take to protect yourself? I am going to list a few things that I think are top priorities when dealing with any online account.

  • Use a password manager program
  • Use two factor authentication
  • Use passwords that are nonsensical
  • Do not engage in online  games or puzzles that would  require you to provide personalized information.
  • Never share passwords or accounts.
  • Use separate emails for separate types of online activity, and preferably protonmail.com for sensitive information
  • Get in the habit of clearing browser data and cookies.
  • Always ensure that your electronics, your computer, phone, tablets, what have you are up to date.
  • Never save payment information to your devices
  • Never screenshot your cryptocurrency wallet seed phrases on any computer or phone. Always keep it offline.

Let’s now take a deeper look at some of these points and try to clarify what they mean. 

For starters, a password manager program is something like Bitwarden or 1password. What it does is manage all your logins and passwords for you using nonsensical passwords.

Then there’s two-factor authentication, often commonly referred to as 2FA. It is a system that requires a secondary login action. It could be via text, which I do not recommend, or via an authenticator app. I highly recommend utilizing Two Factor Authenticator Apps and not text messaging. 

Often social media games will ask you for personalized information to get information about you. They ask questions about you such as your favorite car, or color, etc., in hopes of getting answers to your security questions used for password resets. I highly recommend not engaging in question-based games. 

Here’s another tip: Separate your email accounts into four different purposes. If you have an email account for shopping, an account for finances, an account for communicating with family and friends, and an account for bills, you can compartmentalize your vulnerability if someone were to gain access to one of your email accounts. 

In terms of setting up a cryptocurrency wallet, many times you’ll be asked to save phrase words, usually a combination of 12 to 48 words. They are used to recover your crypto if you forget a password or lose access to your wallet. In doing this, it is especially important to never take a screenshot or copy them into a notepad or word document. The reason for this is that if your computer or phone is compromised, the nefarious actor will be able to access all your cryptocurrency. 

Writing them on a piece of paper and having multiple copies throughout your house, car, one in your wallet is a good best practice. Also, look into getting a fireproof safe to store them in.   

I could go on and on for days about online security. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up or even create a series. But I just wanted to take a moment to remind everyone to stay wary of their online security. Hoping you have a wonderful, safe, and more secure day. 

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