Today, data protection is crucial. Virtually everyone is online and has provided personal information somewhere. It can be your address, name, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, photos, or telephone number. All these can be used in identity theft. Nowadays, there are even scammers using other people’s voices. Before, you get scared further, here are several facts about digital privacy you need to know.

-        Any government agency can access and read your email content (and messages on your phone, Facebook, and Twitter) as long they have stayed for more than 180 days. Once a government agency proves that the materials and emails are relevant to an ongoing investigation, then they are acting within the law.

-        Many tech companies such as Google, Facebook, and SnapChat release transparency reports showing how many times governments have requested them to provide reports on their users, and how they have complied with the request.

-        Tech companies legally and often sell your personal information to 3rd party businesses despite their policies indicating that they protect personal data of their users. For instance, you will likely see interest-based ads on your Facebook timeline or Google. If you talked with a friend about, let’s say dishwashers, you are likely to see dishwasher ads on your timeline

-        Your computer’s microphone and camera can be turned on by people and government without your knowledge. This will help them read your old emails

-        The government can legally track your location using your phone’s GPS

-        Stored data is easier to be tracked than verbal communication

-        The police can obtain your phone records without a warrant

Did these facts scare you more? I'm sure they did, and that's why data protection is important.

In 2014, CNN Money reported that half of the American adults on the internet were hacked in one way or another that year. There occurred major security breaches in 2014 which made most companies secure their systems as hackers keep getting smarter.

Here are more frightening statistics

-        Forbes report that almost 30,000 websites are infected with malware every day

-        15.4 million Americans had encountered an instance of identity theft in 2016

-        Over 4,000 cyber-attacks occurs on a daily basis, meaning that 3 cases happen every minute

You are probably frightened and almost shutting off your device, but don’t worry as there are measures you can take;

1.     Never click links on social media and emails from people you don’t know

2.     If you find an email suspicious, even from someone you know, always check with the person first

3.     When doing financial transactions online, ensure that the website handling online payment begins with HTTPs. The ‘s’ indicates a secure connection

4.     Never provide your email password to anyone

5.     Never log into any of your accounts with an email link. Manually type the site you are visiting on your browser

6.     Always have malware tools and antivirus on

These are just some of the basic things you need to keep in mind to protect your identity and ensure computer security. If you frequently use online payment. Consider having temporary credit and debit numbers. You may also get a prepaid card to prevent hackers from accessing your bank accounts and credit card details.

For more computer security, use encryption everywhere on the internet. Use an encrypted web browser to be more protected.

You can also use VPN (virtual private network) to mask your IP address.

If you combine these tips with being watchful of your activities online, you can avoid ‘basic’ hackers who may try to steal your personal information.

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