Protecting Your Privacy

Computer Encryption

If you were to lose your laptop today, how much of your personal information would be exposed? Even if your computer was password protected, someone could still remove the hard drive and see all of your files. That's why it's important to encrypt your computer, which prevents any unauthorized person from accessing your hard drive.

Most computers have encryption software built-in, and the entire process only takes a few hours (a small price to pay if your information were ever compromised). When the software has finished encrypting your hard drive, you will need to create a passcode to enter every time you turn on your computer. This will temporarily un-encrypt the hard drive while you are using it so that you can access your files. Anything saved on your computer during that time is automatically protected. Best of all, your computer will function exactly the same as it did before, only this time if anyone tries to steal it they won't take your privacy, too!

Creating Strong Passwords

Many of us have a variety of online accounts, including email addresses, social media profiles, and online shopping memberships. Each one contains private information, so why do we use the same password for all of them? A strong password is your first line of defense against hackers and identity thieves, so it's important to create one for every account you have.

The first step to ensuring your passwords are strong is to create ones that are easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. Try making an anagram out of a phrase - for example, "My birthday is January 10, 1994" becomes "Mbi01101994." To make it even stronger, replace some letters or words with numbers and symbols. The same example could become "Mb1$01101994."

When thinking of a password to use, always include a combination of numbers, capital letters, and symbols, and don't use any dictionary words. If you're worried about not remembering all of your passwords, some programs can remember them for you and even suggest a strong one for you to use when creating a new account. Just don't forget the password for the program!