It's no secret that 2013 wasn't a great year for Internet privacy.
Users had their information stolen en masse from private databases, including a security breach in November that reportedly resulted in 42 million unencrypted passwords being stolen from Australian-based Cupid Media, which was followed by a massive hack of Target credit and debit card information.
So, what's a concerned netizen to do in 2014? Turns out there are plenty of ways to keep your data safe without breaking your Internet addiction.
Take two steps towards better security
Even if you aren't worried about NSA agents reading your email, you should still be concerned about hackers taking a peek at your sensitive bank information or your "50 Shades of Grey" fan fiction.
That is why it's a good idea to take advantage of two-step verification, something thatGoogle, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and other companies have been pushing more often lately as big password leaks have hit the news.
Basically, not only will the service ask you for your password, but it will provide you with a code via a text message or an authentication app that will verify your identity.
“People should take the extra step because it’s incredibly effective in making it hard for someone to break into your account,” Yan Zhu, technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocate for Internet privacy, told NBC News. “They not only need access to something you know — which is your password — but they need access to something you own, which is your phone or another secondary device.”
Check your URL
Every website you visit should have "https" before the URL in the browser, instead of just "http," to ensure Web traffic is encrypted for a more secure connection — especially in spaces with public Wi-Fi like airports and cafes. What do you do if that extra "s" is missing? You might want to install HTTPS Everywhere, a browser plug-in for Chrome, Firefox and Opera that rewrites requests to websites to keep you protected.
Change your terrible password
The top three passwords in a November security breach that reportedly affected 38 million Adobe customer accounts:
Not exactly impenetrable. And password cracking software — much of it freely available — isonly getting more advanced. So how can you protect yourself?
“Use long passwords, at least eight characters, but the longer the better,” Maxim Weinstein, security advisor at Sophos, wrote to NBC News. “Avoid words (including names) and predictable patterns like adding a number to the end of a word. One trick is to choose a phrase or song lyric and use the first letter of each word (e.g., “Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light” equals "oscysbtdel"), perhaps making some substitutions to make it more complex.” READ MORE HERE.
Did you know…?
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked thousands of classified documents that revealed the depths of the agency's electronic surveillance program.