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5 silly mistakes putting your online privacy and security at huge risk

There are so many online scams and tricks out there I can’t cover them all on my website and national radio show. I make it my duty to inform you of the tactics bad actors use to fool you. 

A great podcast was the episode when I dove into the mind of a hacker. Tap or click to listen to an episode of my podcast, Kim Komando Explains, with an IBM social engineer. She spills the secrets hackers use to scare and confuse people.

I know you have seen a common trick: fake calls and emails pretending to come from government agencies. No one wants to deal with the IRS or a problem with Social Security. Tap or click for a new government scam making the rounds.

Here are five more ways you’re at risk — with easy solutions to be a little safer online.

1. You post for the whole world to see

I read a study from Pew Research that blew me away. Of those polled, 53% of Twitter users said that their profiles were set to public. Pew examined the profiles of everyone who submitted their account handle, and a whopping 89% were public.

Yikes. It looks like we could all use a reminder to check if our profiles are private. 

An easy way to check what others see is to open up a new browser window in private or incognito mode. Navigate to your profile, such as https://twitter.com/kimkomando. If your tweets are visible, your profile is public.

To lock down your Twitter account from a computer:

  • Log in. On the left-hand side, click More > Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety
  • Go to Audience and tagging > Check the box next to Protect your Tweets

Now only those who follow you can see your posts. It’s your job to clean up that list and block anyone you don’t want following you.

What about on Facebook? Tap or click for an easy way to keep out creeps and snoops.

2. Your home network is exposed

Weak Wi-Fi protections stopped the lives of one British couple right in the middle of the pandemic. They couldn’t work or support their children. According to the BBC, someone used their Wi-Fi connection to upload child abuse material to an online chat site. That led the police straight to their front door.

Don’t let that be you! Step one: Create a unique password that’s hard to crack and store it somewhere safe, like a password manager or notebook you keep hidden away. Make sure your router also has a strong, secure, and unique password. 

After you take care of the password, there are a few other steps you should take. Start with gathering a list of everything using your network. If you find anything you don’t recognize, I’ll show you how to lock out anyone mooching your connection.

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3. You’re a serial reuser

I’ve told you repeatedly not to reuse your passwords made up of letters, numbers, and symbols. The same goes for PIN codes. If you’re using the same four digitals to unlock your phone, open your PC, and make debit card purchases, you’re asking for trouble.

And don’t use your address, digits in your phone number, your birthday, or the birthdays of those close to you.

Maybe now you’re wondering if you should ditch the code altogether for a biometric method like Face ID or your fingerprint. Here’s a look at which method is safest.

4. You shop directly from ads

Social media ads can be a decent way to find new products that appeal to you. They are targeted based on what you have browsed and bought, after all. But they’re also a common way for criminals to try to swindle you out of cash.

It’s easier than you’d think to create an ad that goes to a shady site. Maybe you won’t get anything at all after you place an order, or what you receive isn’t at all what you were expecting.

You’re better off heading to your search bar and visiting the brand website itself. There, search for the item in the ad. Sure, it requires a few extra steps, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You should look up the company on bbb.org while you’re at it if the name is new to you.

5. You give apps access without a second thought

Over at Komando.com, we often write about apps you need to remove from your phone. Here’s our latest tip on the types of apps you should say goodbye to.

Sometimes these apps are simply a waste of space. Others are spreading malware that could do severe damage to your device and steal your money in the process.

Then there are all the apps in that gray area in between. They aren’t malicious, but they may be asking you to give up more info than you really should. 

A weather app, for example, needs access to your location to tell you the forecast for your area. But does it need access to your camera? I say no.

Tap or click for my guide to controlling exactly what permissions your apps have. This is worth your time.

Bonus Tip: How your TV streaming apps stalk you

Whether you use Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+ or Apple TV, chances are your favorite apps are tracking you wherever you go. In this episode, I’ll reveal the secret risks you take when you cut the cord.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television, or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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