Cybercrime and ransomware attacks have become commonplace in society today. The impact is worldwide, causing headaches and financial troubles for many businesses and consumers.

So, how do you stay safe from these threats?

Here are a few tips to keep your personal information out of the wrong hands.

Be conscious of what you share online

The lines of privacy have blurred in our “share everything” social media culture. People are sharing aspects of their personal life that they never did before, giving criminals a leg up.

Sharing your whereabouts can cause trouble in a couple of ways. Tagging images and status updates with your location may seem harmless, but it allows the outside world to see exactly where that image was taken or posted from. Where you live, work, exercise, and spend your time is now out in the open. This information could be used for things like opening credit cards in your name.

Surveys and quizzes are common on social media platforms like Facebook. They’re certainly fun, but it’s important to be aware of the information you’re sharing. Questions like: What was your high school mascot?, How old were you when you graduated high school? When did you meet your spouse? They all seem like innocent trivia. However, this can unintentionally give away answers to some of your security questions for banking or other accounts in the process.

Use a password manager

A study by Dashlane in 2015 found the average person has 90 online accounts. Nearly five years later, I can only imagine how that number has grown.

Keeping up with which email address, username, and password combination to use can be nearly impossible. So, people often resort to using the same or similar combinations for everything. The problem is: if one is compromised, they’re all compromised.

Using a password managing app or service is highly recommended. This allows you to create and store complex passwords in a secure manner without having to remember them all.

Many smartphones have a password manager built in. There are paid options available as well, including LastPass, Keeper, and Dashlane.

Use two-factor authentication

Security is all about layers. Passwords are good, and another recommended layer is to use two-factor authentication when possible.

Two-factor authentication is like using two forms of ID to get into the website, app or service. This additional verification step could be a text message, phone call, email, or authentication app.

The most common method uses a text message with a code that changes each time you log in. You type in your email address and password to the website. Then, they text you a code that you also type in online.

That way, even if your password gets out, hackers won’t be able to log in unless they have the additional code.

Even websites like Amazon offer two-factor authentication these days. When you see that it’s available, it’s recommended that you turn it on.

Courtney Kaufman Casey is director of marketing at Accent Computer Solutions. 

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