As more technology continues to develop for our ever-changing society, people are excited to grab the latest products and services that allow them to stay engaged and connected with others. In a world that constantly asks for more time and labor, technology makes our lives a little bit easier. Black people are one of the top consumers of tech products in the United States. Embracing new technology has become so common that now the sharing of our personal data is often done without even giving a second thought.

However, the downside to the increased accessibility of technology is heightened exposure to potential hackers and suspicious malware, all of which seeks your steal your online information for personal gain — sometimes even to prying companies. Don’t let your data get used without your permission. Here are seven ways that you can ensure your own cybersecurity when you use a tech device.

1.) Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Whenever you use public Wi-Fi, you are exposing yourself to hackers on an unsafe network. Public access to the internet is great for necessity, but this also gives permission to leave your information out in the open, creating a way for hackers to get into your Wi-Fi hotspot. Take control of your security by making sure to connect to an open and free internet source with a VPN. A Virtual Private Network is an online service that allows you to keep the information that you project between you and the websites you visit. The VPN sends out a temporary IP address instead of your laptop, phone or tablet’s IP address, in order to prevent storing your information. It’s a great way to have a secure connection without having to give up free Wi-Fi.

2.) Say No to Cookies

Almost every website you visit has cookies. These are small digital trackers that store bits of information from your web browser. Different websites use this information to determine the type of content to cater to your taste. However, using this data can make you a prime target for hackers. Disable the cookies on your web browser, so that you can surf the web without your data roaming around. 

3.) Only Use Encrypted Email

Email is not as safe as you think. Hackers know that email is one of the top places that people send private information for personal and/or business reasons. To protect yourself, use an encrypted service, such as Proton, which gives you a protected account where emails are secure no matter where they land. You remain anonymous, so that you as the user maintain your privacy. 

4.) Protect Your Texts With Encryption

Since many companies have access to your phone number, it’s just as easy to jump into your texts to hack personal data. Lock it down by using an encrypted text service, such as Signal. You can send texts, call your friends, and video chat with your family without the suspicion of being tracked through your phone camera. You can even get your texts to disappear after a certain time frame just like Snapchat.

5.) Know That No Website Is Secure Without HTTPS

You may have seen the “HTTP” at the beginning of the URL you type into the web browser. There’s a safer way to go to a site without leaving your data wide open. By placing an “https” prior to entering a URL, the data that government agencies and internet providers will be only yours to see.

6.) Put Two or More Factor Authentication on Every Login

Face ID is great and all, but it’s not always enough. Always use an additional step aside from your password to get into any of your online accounts. Security questions may seem to act as a second factor for access, but many hackers can get the answers from your social media profiles and any other exposed data. Make your security tighter by adding a two or more factor authentication, such as a separate set of randomly automated numbers sent to your phone to enter every time you log in.

7.) Make All Personal Information on Social Media Private

Many apps, such as Tinder, use your social media profiles to gather information for your account and verify the legitimacy of your existence. Yet, leaving your personal information for everyone to see isn’t the best way for people to get to know you. Reserve the intimate details for in-person conversations, and change the privacy settings on all social media accounts. Guarding your personal information puts the control back in your hands, especially when most people don’t read through the privacy policy as thoroughly as necessary. Different social media sites vary on privacy settings, ranging from hiding your profile from search engines to blocking outsiders from viewing old posts. 

It’s easy for your information to be taken and used without your permission. However, these simple tips can help you make privacy a priority by tightening up your digital security without having to pay too much for web protection. As more tech products and sites become available, minimizing the amount of tracking on your devices and protecting your personal information can stop hackers from targeting you. Take your cyber security seriously, and you’ll be on your way to better tech experience. 

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