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3 Tips for Staying Safe Online During the Holidays
This post is sponsored by Google. All words and opinions are my own.
3 Tips for Staying Safe Online During the Holidays
The holiday season is by far my favorite time of the year. The lights, the smells, the chill to the air…I love it all and so does my family. To me, the only negative to the season is the need to be a bit more vigilant when it comes to safety and security. The gift giving season is unfortunately accompanied by an increase in theft; we have all seen the videos of porch pirates stealing packages from unsuspecting homes, right? During the holidays, there’s an increased amount of online activity, account logins, and online purchases. We hope that you love this 3 Tips for Staying Safe Online During the Holidays post.
Thankfully we now have technologies like smart doorbell cameras to help combat theft. But what about staying safe online? When you think about the holiday season and what it means…all of the online shopping, all of the new devices being set up with new accounts…you realize there is an increased risk of digital theft. So the question is, how do we protect ourselves from theft online? What is the online version of the doorbell camera? Our 3 Tips for Staying Safe Online During the Holidays post will share a few free tools and practices that will help you stay safe online during the holidays (and beyond).
More on Google:
Teaching Kids to Be Good Digital Citizens and Be Internet Awesome | Digital Safety Resources Every Parent Needs | Teaching Children the Responsible Way to Use Technology | 5 Reasons Why It's Cool to be Kind for Kids | Creating Healthy Digital Habits for Families with Digital Wellbeing and Family Link for Android
Passwords are key
Remember years ago when computers first became standard in the workplace? If you are anything like me, then you remember the countless sticky notes on every single computer with the password written on it or you simply had to open a desk door to find that sticky note. We didn't really take passwords seriously and I have to admit that I actively worked to remove those passwords because I didn't want to be bothered with it. Smart, right?
Step one to staying safe online is practicing good password habits. So what does this mean exactly? First and foremost, it means that your passwords are both unique and strong. Unique means no reusing passwords, period. Do not be like me. Several years ago I had a few accounts taken from me by thieves, and they were able to pull off their caper because I was reusing passwords. One of the businesses where I have an account was breached, and the hackers were able to recover password information. The thieves took my stolen password and ran it against accounts I had at other businesses. They were able to gain entry into my accounts and lock me out. Not good, and not fun. The lesson here is a simple one. Do Not Reuse Passwords. Ever.
The second component to practicing good password habits is to use a strong password. This means a password that cannot easily be guessed, so no names, important dates, or simple words. Instead, you want a password that is random and contains numbers, letters, and symbols. As an example, “PassWord” is a very bad password, while something like “&E^)tc5@rj1v9Na2” is nice and strong. Now I think I may know what you are thinking here, as I had the same thought when I began practicing good password habits. You might be asking yourself how in the heck you are supposed to remember a random password for every site that you use? It may sound impossible but it's not.
There is free technology that can remember passwords for us. The final step in practicing good password habits is to use a password manager. Use unique, strong passwords for every account and save them with your password manager. The manager that is built into Google Chrome is used by our entire family. Everyone loves it because its simple to use and can automatically generate strong passwords.
Only run the latest, updated software
Do you know if you are running the latest software? I do and I make certain that all of my tech is up to date with software. My family, on the other hand, are the ones who constantly put off updates because “they are annoying” or “I am busy.” They do this because they don't understand the importance of keeping everything up-to-date.
It important to be running the latest version of software on all your devices. Some software, like Chrome, Android, and iOS, will automatically update, so you never need to worry about doing it yourself. For other services that send notifications when it’s time to update, don’t click “remind me later.” Take the time to update the software right away as many updates address newly discovered vulnerabilities that are being exploited.
We need to listen to our technology because the fact is, it tells us a lot like when we need to update, tell us that passwords aren't secure or even that our accounts might be vulnerable. Using this information properly means taking the steps needed to protect ourselves.
Protect your accounts with the Google Security Checkup
Security Checkup is a step-by-step tool that helps protect the security of your Google Account with personalized recommendations. You can manage which third-party apps have access to your account data, check your saved passwords for security issues, and more. → g.co/securitycheckupg.co/securitycheckup.
These are actual screenshots from my wife's Google account. Until running this checkup, I am not sure she really understood the risks associated with online security during the holidays. 43 issues were found and while most were small, there were a few that convinced her to change several of her passwords which she hadn't done in years.
When we go to her Password Checkup analyzation and it came up that she had 679 reused passwords, she freaked out a little and decided maybe that's not such a good thing. This is important because as passwords get breached, hackers start to try other accounts of that person and if they are like my wife, they have 678 chances to find another account of hers.
Taking these few simple steps to protecting yourself online can not only provide peace of mind knowing that your devices are secure but that your family has secure devices as well. While protecting ourselves online does require vigilance, Google Security Checkup makes it so easy by walking you through the steps to be more secure online. In fact, all you have to do is send someone this link: → g.co/securitycheckup and they can take simple, actionable steps to see personalized security recommendation for their Google Account to keep themselves more secure. It really is that easy! We hope that you are inspired by these 3 Tips for Staying Safe Online During the Holidays.