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Start 2021 by fixing your online privacy

01/06/2021

Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott knows that fixing up your privacy and security online is a simple goal that you can achieve without having to change out of your pajamas or venture into the real world. And even though the actions are relatively simple, they can protect you from some serious problems down the road.

Keep your hardware and software updated

Keeping your Operating System (OS) current can protect you and your devices from known security holes that could go un-patched if you keep pushing off the update process.  Turning on automatic updates makes it simple to stay up to date.  It is also worth keeping in mind that companies do not support devices or software versions forever. If you are still using an older phone that you have been holding onto forever it may no longer be eligible for software updates.

Delete old apps

It may seem harmless to leave old apps on your phone or computer, but they eat up a surprising amount of storage space. If you are not using an app and you do not have automatic updates turned on, then it's easy to let it get out of date, becoming a security risk.

Use a password manager

By now, you probably have hundreds of online accounts, many of which are totally dormant. Imagine you bought a pair of shoes from some website in 2016 that required you to make an account. You used the same password you use for everything. In 2018, that website experienced a breech, and your password was compromised, but you never heard about it. Your info is still out there and available to people who may want to get into your other, more important, accounts.

It happens more than you think.  A password manager like 1Password, Keeper, or Dashlane generate hard-to-crack, unique passwords for your accounts and lets you log into them easily without having to remember them.

Swear off those scam Facebook apps

Now, however, opting into one of those services provides random companies with a lot more information than they need about you for almost no payoff.  If you have third party accounts tied into your Facebook, this is also a good time to try and sort them out or unlink them. It used to be simple to log into services like Spotify using your Facebook credentials, but that is not the most secure way to operate. You are better off using a unique login.

Turn on two-factor authentication

Even if you have a solid password, it is not impossible for hackers to crack or even bypass it, which is why two-factor authentication can come in handy. Most 2FA methods involve getting a text or an email on your phone with a security code required to log in. Many services still use this method, but it is not as secure as using an authenticator app. With a typical SMS text, motivated bad guys can intercept the messages without needing direct physical access to your phone.

Go through some basic security checkups

Several of the larger tech companies offer you the opportunity to go through and adjust your specific privacy and security settings on you Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and Apple accounts.  Take time to confirm your setting on any frequently used accounts.

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