How can I browse the Internet and be safe from identity theft?

Identity theft is a major concern in today’s digital world. Whether you shop online or not, it’s possible that companies have and store your information online. And although you do not have control over how these institutions use your data, you do have control over how you use and store your data on your mobile device. Familiarize yourself with the following elements on online security:
  • Security settings. There are common security settings in most browsers. While they perform the same function, each browser will have a unique way to implement these functions.
  • Cookies. When you surf the Internet, a trail called cookies is created using the sites you visit. Cookies are stored on your devices and can easily be obtained by anyone who has an interest in finding out what sites you frequent. All browsers allow you to turn off cookies or decide if you want to accept them from certain types of sites. Use the most restrictive cookie setting that works for your surfing needs.
  • Auto fill. While it might be more convenient to have your personal data automatically filled in to save time, it is not a good idea. This allows the data to be stored on your device and makes it easier to steal.
  • History. As you surf, the sites you visit are stored. You can erase the history when you are done browsing. In addition, features such as private browsing turn off history so that it is not stored. It is safer to use private browsing, but there will be no record of your surfing. If you want to revisit a site, bookmarking or tagging it would be a better way to go back to the site.
  • Plugins and extensions. These programs add functionality. Extensions add functionality to your browser. Plugins are limited to a simple task, usually embedded in a particular site. Extensions are much more likely to be hacked because they have readable code that can be changed. With extensions and plugins you have to weigh usefulness versus risk. Err on the side of caution and only load extensions and plugins from companies that are reliable.
  • Pop­up blocking. Windows that appear out of nowhere are called pop­ups. Pop­ups often cause problems such as viruses and malware. Pop­up blockers should be turned on to prevent attacks. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.