Protect Your Personal Information on Social Media

Many social media platforms will automatically set your profile — and therefore all the information on your profile — to public. Check your privacy settings on your social media accounts to make sure you’re showing the very minimum about yourself to the public, especially on Facebook. Avoid adding other personal information, such as your home address, birthdate or phone number wherever possible.

Secure Your Mobile Device

Cybercriminals are getting better at targeting mobile devices using malware. That’s why it’s important for us to secure our mobile devices as best we can. That means using strong passwords and biometric features wherever possible. You should also turn off your Bluetooth whenever you’re not using it. If you have an iPhone or iPad, make sure that you set AirDrop to “Contacts Only” when asking someone to share a file with you, and turn it back off when you’re done.

Why Software Updates are Vital

Though it can be annoying to have to restart your device to install a system update, it’s much better than the alternative: leaving your computer or mobile device vulnerable to attack. In fact, the notorious WannaCry ransomware attack targeted computers that had not been updated to the latest version of Windows. Regularly updating your software is the easiest way to make sure you are protected from known software vulnerabilities.

How to Avoid Fake Retail Websites

You can verify the validity of an online retailer with a quick Google search, to see if there are any scams associated with the website. You can also plug the URL into Whois, which provides information about the site owner and how long the domain has existed. If the domain hasn’t been around for very long, this is typically a sign the website is fake.

Only Use Trusted Payment Methods Online

Phishing scams will often use bizarre payment methods, such as money orders, wire transfers or pre-loaded gift cards. These methods make it harder to trace the recipient and nearly impossible to get your money back. Make sure you’re using encrypted websites when inputting any payment information. Digital wallet options like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay also offer secure transactions via tokenization.

Press the Call Button on Your Smartphone to Redial Last Call

Here’s a tip that a lot of folks forget about now that we use smartphones more than landlines. Your phone keeps the last number dialed available so you can easily call them back. In both iOS and Android, you can press the call button in the phone app for a quick call-back feature. This is great in dead spots when calls drop, when you get a busy signal or when you are on a conference call.

Keep Your Messages Secure

Instead of using your smartphone to send a text message (SMS), use an app like WhatsApp or Signal. Both apps are free and offer encryption for text messages along with voice and video calls, pictures and documents. Text messages may not protect your information and your privacy could be at risk. Both apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows and Mac.

How to Get Metadata Out of Images

Images store a trove of hidden data. Information such as location data, camera settings, serial number, model number and much more can be hidden in an image or photo. Performing a simple web search for viewing metadata will return many results. My favorite online line metadata viewer is Metapicz. While some data may not be embedded in photos because of privacy, investigators will often find even a little data is helpful.