Protect Yourself Online: What Not to Share | USCCA

There are numerous ways to protect your family — physically, emotionally, financially and, yes, even digitally. With the prevalence of smartphones, smart homes and smart accessories, it’s easier now than ever before for someone to get your private information online.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

How are you protecting yourself online in the midst of COVID-19?

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A VPN will accomplish a lot of this for you. You can use it on your home network, phones, and just about anything that gets the internet. I agree keeping everything up to date is crucial in keeping yourself safe from malware and other attacks. The biggest problem is with passwords, most won’t remember a complex password that they seen once without writing it down, which has its own set of issues, and if you forget your login to last pass it can take a few steps to get logged back in. I use it myself but it has caused me issues from time to time with logging me out and me having to remember the password or change it to get logged back in.

I found using a VPN keeps you pretty safe online overall. Most people will never have to worry about anything other than malware or a virus. A VPN will keep you hidden from everything even your Internet service provider, it actually goes a step beyond private browsing. You can enter it in your router and it will keep everything hidden that connects to your network. A VPN also protects you on public networks by rerouting the information through the VPN first. Using a VPN will allow you to select which server you connect to which can make your location anywhere in the world if you choose. and Paypal are both great suggestions for online ordering. The email thing while smart can be confusing to keep up with though, not to mention a lot of companies sell your information. If you have already signed up with Facebook, Twitter, have email and other social media sites, your information is already out there. It’s best just to be smart about it, and not click on links from anything you did not request or if a friend sends you something text or call them and find out if they sent you a link before clicking on it.

It’s important to pay attention to everything you do, without stressing over things. Keep in mind most hackers will never be after you specifically, they will more than likely put out malware or virus looking to see who downloads their links so they can gain access to bank accounts. When ordering from a site you can look at the web address and make sure it has https or the little lock icon before the web address to see if it’s secure. Unless someone specifically has a vendetta against you, then you won’t even make a hackers radar, and let’s face it 99.9% of us won’t make the Government radar because we are the most boring people in the world, we follow the laws and pass background checks. I would be more worried about the information you give out when filling out forms online to sign up for sites, many companies sell that information and it’s already too late for most people because we have done it for years, there’s no taking it back now.

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Another thing to check is your online ‘presence’ or how easy it is to find out information about yourself online.

First start by doing a google search for your name. When I do this to myself, first item that pops up is my LinkedIn profile. Since it is used for work and only has generalized work information, that’s a risk I accept.

Then there are some random pages associated with a hobby. Ok. Not too dangerous, but maybe I should adopt a handle that someone can’t easily associate to me. I’ll have to be careful with what I share there.

Uh oh. Now there is an old address, phone number and approximate age from one of those online address search engines. I guess I should avoid using age and address information to verify who I am.

A couple pages in, there is even an archived newspaper article with my name, address and how much I paid for my house. WTF!?!

Now that we know how much information is available, how easy is it to find out about someone given limited information? Starting with 2 pieces of information say first/middle/last name and city/state or occupation, I try to see how long it takes to find myself and how much information I get along the way. There is a process to do this where you weigh and qualify information based on what you know about the person you’re searching for and as you get more information it helps qualify earlier search results.