Make sure your home wifi is password protected

Most of us these days have a WiFi box in the house and do a lot of our web surfing or movie watching over that home network.  Mostly we just plug the box in to the wall outlet, connect it to our internet provider somehow, and turn it on. But is that network secure? You're probably looking at your bank accounts over that connection - could it be snooped by a guy in a van down the street with a laptop and a can of pringles?

Use Two Factor Authentication

These days the major internet companies offer you the option of using "multi-factor" or "two-factor authentication as an option you can turn on.  It's a good idea.  Here's how it works: to log in to a website that uses multi-factor authentication, you have to know your password, plus you also have to have some kind of extra validation step.  For example, some sites will send a text mesage to the mobile phone on your account, checking to see if it's really you.

Minimize the amount of personal information you disclose online

Minimize the amount of personal information you disclose online. When signing up for online services and apps, fill out the bare minimum of personal information to minimize your digital presence.  Does that fan site really need your home phone number or birthday? Does the pizza shop need your whole Facebook profile?

Always log-off

Most computer operating systems these days are designed to keep the data of multiple users securely separated, but you don't get that protection if you leave your devices running and unlocked, so always log-off! If you're leaving your computer or phone, make sure it's locked before you leave. Worried about remembering your computer password? Practice makes perfect.

Disable location services in your electronics

Disable location services in your electronics. Many modern electronics contain GPS functionalities and allow applications to track your location, but it's more than just "where you are" - if you know both "where" and "when" you can map a person's habits, highway speed, kids' school, favorite bank branch, etc. Be sure to review the GPS location options in your device to ensure you minimize volunteering your location information.

Think before you click!

Think before you click! Similar to reading email carefully, if someone sends you a link via online messaging or other service, review the link carefully before clicking. Some links may install malware or virus that may compromise your device security.

Spammers are Sophisticated

Spammers - the folks who sent you email or text messages you didn't know you needed - are becoming more and more sophisticated. That "invoice" in broken english from a vendor you don't remember? It could be a virus. Never click a link in an email or download a file without confirming that it was sent from a trusted source and the link or file is (at least mostly) safe.

Use Identity Theft protection

Try using an Identity Theft protection and monitoring service.  There are lots of options out there; pick one endorsed by an outfit you trust, like your bank, credit union or professional association. With all the hacking stories in the news these days, you may well already have a service looking out for changes in your credit history, accounts etc. -- it's one of the usual things companies do when they get hacked to try to reduce the danger to their customers.  If you have such a service available to you - use the heck out of it!

Look for the Lock

 During web browsing, get used to looking for the "lock" icon near the top of your web browser - these "HTTPS" websites provide for secured connections and are safer use when volunteering personal information. Here's a couple of samples of properly secured sites in popular browsers:


Internet Explorer:

Just because someone asks for information, doesn't mean they should get it

Just because someone asks for information, doesn't mean they should get it. Confirm that the person is authorized to access that information, and make sure you share it in a secure manner.


Featured Tip

Periodically clear search history and accompanying stored data. The steps required vary by browser, but there's always some way to do a spring cleaning. Deleting stored data from websites can also free up storage space or memory on your computer and help it run faster.

© Copyright 2017 Washington State Office of Privacy & Data Protection