Financial tips and money-saving advice from USU Credit Union

Protect Your Digital Privacy

November 3, 2016

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Have you ever had the feeling you are being watched? Well, if you use the internet for anything, you are being watched all the time. It can be as innocent as gathering information for marketing purposes, and can be as malicious as stealing important personal information such as bank account passwords. According to, there are some important and simple steps you should take to better protect yourself.

• Password Protection for Devices Computers, iPads and even phones should be password protected. It’s almost like locking the key to your home or car. If there is no password, anyone can turn on the device and find whatever information you’ve stored about yourself.

• Check on Your Web Presence Whether you are a business or a good citizen, information published about you online can jeopardize your privacy and reputation. Search your name on Google every once in awhile. There’s also a tool called Talkwalker Alerts, on which you can search for content by entering your name at no cost. However, do not trust every ad on a website that offers to search the internet for your presence. These websites could be trying to collect information about you as well.

• Sign Out of Accounts When Not In Use It might seem convenient to stay signed in, so you can pick up where you left off. This invites anyone who uses your computer to snoop around or third parties to more easily track you. Public computers are especially vulnerable.

• Never Give Out Personal Details There are many situations someone will ask for your phone number, zip code, or email. It may be a store clerk. If you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut. Just handle it as if they are a stranger.

• 2-Step Authentication Gmail has become easy to use, but hackers feel the same way. With 2-step authentication, a code is texted to your phone before you check your email. This prevents strangers from signing into your account, obtaining private information, or sending and receiving emails on your behalf. All major email providers offers 2-step authentication but it may take some searching in the settings to turn it on. Also all major social media sites offer 2-step authentication. You should turn it on whenever it is available.

• Privacy Settings Your Facebook presence can make you especially vulnerable. Change your settings to “Friends Only” so the general public can’t see personal details. Otherwise, unwanted parties can see where you are, what you plan to do, and other information that can be used to their advantage. You can also follow these tips for navigating the world of social networking safely.

• Make Yourself Invisible to Trackers This is as simple as clearing your browser history and cookies, which can be used to track you. There are also traffic analysis blockers. These prevent others from finding information about you extrapolated from your browsing habits. Some websites rely on cookies to provide you the information or to verify your sign in so if you run into problems with a site after removing cookies, you should avoid deleting the cookies for that company again.

These are just a few uncomplicated ways to protect your privacy. While nothing is foolproof, such habits can help keep your personal information away from hackers and other cyber criminals. In this day and age, it’s important not to be complacent and take measures to protect your identity and security.



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