Read this if you don’t want to get hacked. (11 Must-Know Digital Safety Tips)

Raise your hand if you’d like to get hacked online?

Anyone want their identity stolen?

How about money – would you like someone to empty your bank account one sunshine-y Tuesday afternoon?

Um, no. No no no. To all of the above. A big fat NO across the board, amiright?

Of course – ain’t nobody got time for the inevitable headache(s) that ensure if/when the unthinkable happens, and you become a victim of a cybercrime. And we all think slash swear it’ll “never happen to me”…until it does. And then – OOPS. Coulda-shoulda-wish-I-woulda changed my password from the 10th grade, like, in the 11th grade and not a decade after the fact.

Anyone else feel the feels?? #RealTalk – this is important. Super important, actually. In 2017, there were over 16.7 million victims of identity fraud, amounting to $16.8 BILLION stolen, when over 30% of the country fell victim to one of the biggest data breaches ever. (https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-identity-theft-and-cybercrime)

Because chances are, if you’re reading this…you’re on the internet. And maybe you’re on the internet a lot (like me), or maybe just a little. But maybe you do things besides read Coming Up Roses when you’re on the internet – maybe you online shop (guilty), maybe you online bank (guilty), maybe you send emails or post on social media (guilty).

First thing’s first: You have a digital footprint. No matter your shoe size, and regardless of your opinion of the internet, you’ve got one. We all do – it’s just the term for the trail of personal data you leave behind (or don’t) from any/all of your online activity. Whether you’re online on your laptop, your iPhone, a computer at the public library – it doesn’t matter. You’re leaving a trail! And if we’re not careful, bad people can pick up crumbs and do bad things in following our footsteps. There’s keeping your online life safe as a blogger (which is even MORE intentional + intensive sometimes), and there’s keeping safe period – which is what we’re going to get you guys to be today.

I’m teaming up with my friends at Allstate today to share some HELLA important tips on staying ~safe~ online, in honor of Digital Safety Month this month. Fitting, seeing as I live online. 😉 And Allstate has a SUUUUUUPER helpful walk-through guide to digital safety in a jiffy – they’ve even got a few 30 second YouTube clips to illustrate points.

  • Password protection

Use a password hub to collect, safely store, + generate new passwords. This is SUPER helpful, because it helps you a.) not need to remember 52 different passwords, and b.) encourages you to HAVE 52 different passwords – and not just reuse the same one from your AOL account in the 90’s. 😉

Beyond that, just be *smart* with your passwords, peeps! Include all sortsa symbols, numbers, and a healthy mix of capitalization. If it’s guessable to anyone at all, it’s def guessable and/or figure-out-able by hackers.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (apparently that’s a thing – wowzas, amiright?) actually recommends using a full sentence as a password, in ADDITION to mixing it up on different sites.

  • Online shopping

The internet is akin to Cookie Monster. And also myself. Both have personal mottos in life: ME WANT COOOOOKIES. When you’re online shopping, ever notice (and get instantly creeped out) if/when you’re browsing online – maybe on Nordstrom – and you switch to scrolling your Facebook feed. And then, all of a sudden…there’s THE EXACT PAIR OF SHOES you were just looking at before, and didn’t buy. It’s like they just knew somehow.

Think it’s a creepy coincidence?

Cos it’s not.

They actually DID KNOW that you were looking at it – they also know whether or not you clicked on, how long you were hanging out on the page trying to figure out whether or not you could squeeze it into this month’s credit card bill without your husband noticing…they know it all. Retailers save data to analyze later, to track your shopping habits, clicks, etc. And it’s why you see ads pop up on social media right after browsing Amazon, even if you didn’t make a purchase! And they just so happen to know exactly what you’ve been searching for…

So, watch out for cookies! When you’re online shopping, checkout as a guest if you don’t want your info stored in the retailer’s system for later. And when you’re done browsing/shopping, clear ‘dem cookies!

  • Googling yourself

Do it. Juuuuuust to make sure you know exactly what’s popping up if/when other random folks on the web decide to Google you, too. Because I’m guessing the LAST thing ya want popping up is, say, your address, or other super personal info.

  • Be smart about phishers

Follow your gut! If it feels fishy…it’s probably phishy. 😉

Anything about “acting now” or something really awfully terribly bad will happen is just giving a false sense of urgency in the hopes of instilling fear, and scaring you into doing something stupid

If anyone or anything asks for your social security number…STOP. Ask Q’s. Why the heck would they need that?! Hint: they probably don’t. Leave your SS card locked up at home, and never take it basically anywhere unless you know in advance that it’s absolutely essential (ie., in a legal setting, changing your name after marriage, etc). (More tips on that here).

  • Social media

First thing’s first: If you don’t already have two-factor authentication on Instagram, do that now. Like, right now. I’ll wait.

OK GREAT. Now that that’s taken care of, make sure you’ve got your Facebook newsfeed security set to “Friends only.” I’ll wait again.

SUPER. You’re on a roll. 😉 Both of these are not automatic options on the respective platforms, but they’re *really* friggin’ important when it comes to staying safe and not getting hacked, or not having personal info seen by totally random people of the internet.

Other important social pointers: Make sure geolocations are turned off when you’re not specifically using the app, and make sure they’re also not being tracked when you ARE using the app – basically, you only want geolocations showing when you yourself specifically click the geotag to intentionally tag a location. Otherwise, in the metadata of posts, some geolocational information can actually be found. Not helpful if/when you’re, for example, always posting from your house. Or always posting from the park down the street from your house where you take your kid every MWF. Capiche?

ALSO, don’t show easily identifiable locations that are part of your regular/daily routine. So when you’re at the park that you always hit up before the farmer’s market, consider not sharing any identifiable information of the location. This is especially helpful if/when you a.) have children and/or b.) are routinized in coming here. If you hit up this one place that you rarely ever hit or know you’ll never hit up again, and you just HAVE to share how dang awesome the pineapple selection is…by all means, go for it, girlfriend. But consider not sharing exact locational info for places that might make you/your family findable later.

  • Watch your apps

Some apps are actually havens for malware. COOL, considering we all thought that our iPhones can’t be “hacked” right? Watch out for apps randomly appearing on your phone that you didn’t personally download, or any weird texts/emails coming through. If you accidentally or unknowingly downloaded a malware-loaded app, it could infect your phone in other weird ways…AND collect data it shouldn’t.

  • Know your credit score – and check it often.

A change in your credit score, especially if unexpected, could be a big indicator of something sketchy goin’ on. Do you know what your credit score is right this very second???

  • Consider how much info is “too much” for online.

Pet names (specifically, dogs), kid names, spouses/parent names…how much is too much? This is TOTALLY a personal decision, and it obviously changes given a whole TON o’ factors – like whether or not it’s your job to share things on the internet. 😉 But even still with that, be careful. It’s *essential* to at least know all risks before doing something stupid. If your pet name is online…someone else could call its name at the dog park. Will he/she go to the complete stranger?

Same with your kids. How does your toddler react to a stranger calling his/her name? (Literally the thought of that just gave me chills up my spine. This sh*t HAPPENS in life, and it’s terrifying – be prepared, peeps!).

Some stuff really doesn’t HAVE to be shared publicly on the internet. And even when it’s “private” on your “private” social media, unless you’re already on top of all of the above (which you might be NOW – #YoureWelcome 😉 ), chances are, it still might not be totally private.

Another last note here – consider posting your location only after having left it. That way, no crazy loon can see where you are and head there straightaway in the hopes of a run-in.

  • Ask one simple Q: “How easy would it be for someone to find me right now?”

Like, find you find you. Do some digging on yourself. And as hard as it might be (slash hopefully is), try to get in the brain of a bad guy who reaaaaaaally wants to find you, for whatever reason. Dig HARD. Dig far + deep. And see what you find on yourself.

  • In simple searching online…

Check for the padlock! Yannno that little padlock symbol that pops up right before the URL when you’re on a secure website? (Go to Amazon as a good example, since they’ve got it!) You’ll see a little green padlock before the word “SECURE” and then the website URL. This means it’s been verified by a trusted third-party authority + has a valid URL certificate, so it’s probably also safe to shop on that website with your credit card, because of their secure data encryption.

If your web browser pops up with a warning saying a website is unsafe, or that folks might be trying to steal your information if you pass go – DO NOT PASS GO. This would just be dumb.

Also, again, make sure you’re clearing your cookies often!

And lastly, make sure your device is running its latest operating system. This impacts security, believe it not!

  • Online banking

The biggest must is always two-factor authentication. It might be a pain in the booty if you’re trying to check accounts in a hurry, but would you rather log on one day to an empty bank account? Now THAT would be a bummer in the checkout line, dontcha think? 😉 Use tricky security questions, too, that aren’t answered by simply going to your social media profiles. (Something like your pet’s name is useless as a security question if Fluffy is all over Instagram – yannno?).

Don’t send money over public Wi-Fi. Know that little warning that comes up whenever you connect to public Wi-Fi, that we all just kinda shake off like it’s nothing? It’s the one about being careful about what information you send over public Wi-Fi, because it’s not necessarily private. Heed that message, my friends. Take it to heart. 

Make sure you’re logged out of any banking slash shopping app when you’re done. Many will automatically log you out when you click out, or after a few minutes of inactivity – which is great. But take that extra step justincase!

Set up automatic account alerts whenever your credit card is used. Sure, you might get a few extra notifications. But if one is alerting you of a fraudulent expense and you can stop identity theft in its tracks, saving you $$$ + major headaches AND stopping a bad person in their tracks, #WorthIt.

OK THEN.

I’m feelin’ pretty secure.

…are you?

HOPE SO, YO.

Again, cannot recommend this resource enough – it’s SUCH a helpful walk-through of everything you need to know to give your entire online life a major security upgrade.

Does your online security need a major upgrade? How safe are you online? And have you ever been hacked?

I wanna know! I have so many friends + family who have had not-so-good situations where accounts were hacked and/or passwords stolen…or money stolen. NO BUENO, YO. I have *full* confidence that my Allstate friends have your back just as they have mine, so I’m sure these tips will help majorly up yo’ game right this very second.

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*This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. As always, all thoughts and opinions presented are entirely my own. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Coming Up Roses!

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