5 security mistakes you’re probably making

You don’t think about your car until you get the flat. You don’t appreciate your phone until the screen cracks. As long as someone doesn’t hack your account, steal your bank information, and spread objectionable photos of you on the Internet, you take cyber security lightly.

Most people know about the prevention of viruses. They avoid weird websites and spam messages from mysterious people. But a few things we don’t think about: Are you sure no one has access to your webcam? If you live in a high-tech home, did you know that strangers can hack into your smart devices?

Along with tips on keeping your family, your finances and your personal data safe, here are five ways you could still be vulnerable.

1. Letting Someone See What You’re Doing
Your daughter is spending a semester in Italy. No problem! You can still chat with her, see her face, and be a part of her life, all in real time, thanks to the magic of the webcam. These tiny cameras have been standard desktop equipment since the 1990s, but their global immediacy still seems miraculous.

That is, until a hacker commands your camera and captures your video in your bedroom. Losing your Social Security number is a pain, but nothing is as terrifying as the intimate images of your family being distributed infinitely through the Internet. Remember, your camera may not indicate that it has been hacked.

Even the simplest defense is incredibly simple. Simply put a piece of masking tape on your webcam. You won’t damage the lens, and you can always remove it when you want to use Skype or FaceTime.

There is also hi-tech solution. You can install free software that alerts you when someone tries to access your webcam remotely. If you are an Apple user, you can download OverSight. Click here to learn more about Oversight.

Windows users can turn to the aptly named Who Stacks My Cam. Both these programs are free to download and easy to install.

2. Let Alexa run freely
People love Alexa. More specifically, they like to tell Alexa what to do. Amazon Echo has single-handedly invented the virtual assistant, and other companies are rushing to catch up with the company’s versatile little tower.

A favorite feature is called “Voice Purchasing,” which enables you to order products verbally. You can say, “Alexa, I need more paper towels,” and the device will order with Amazon Pantry. The feature is available on Amazon Prime and of course for anyone with an Echo.

Just make sure you don’t leave voice purchase open when you’re not using it. Here’s how to turn off voice purchasing from your Alexa app. Go to Settings >> Voice Purchasing >> Turn off Voice Purchasing. You may also need a confirmation code that you will say aloud to Alexa when you are shopping on Amazon.

You can also turn off Alexa’s mic. In June, Amazon introduced the “Drop In” feature. Once enabled, other Echoes automatically connect to another Echo to initiate conversations. The other party doesn’t even need to take calls, the line opens automatically, and it works like an intercom system.

3. Staying signed in all the time, all the time
If you’re like most people, you check your Facebook account several times every day. The same goes for Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Google+, as well as many other apps and social media accounts. Most of the time, you don’t log into your accounts because they are already open. This feature, of course, makes you vulnerable to hacking.

Just make sure that only you are accessing your account. You can actually check the recent activity on your account to make sure no one else is logging in.

Each social media platform is different; Same for your apps. But on Facebook, click the down arrow in the top-right corner >> Activity Log >> Filters.

On Twitter: If you’re using a laptop or PC, go to analytics.twitter.com >> Tweets. If you are using the Twitter app on an iPhone or Android smartphone, >> Click on the Analytics icon from your Tweets.

On the topic of signing in to your accounts, there is a required security setting that you must enable. I have steps on my website for major sites including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and more.

4. Just whatever, whenever agrees
Do you read all those little warnings when you’re installing a new app? If you’re like most people, you can probably click through to all of those questions.

Well, you may want to review the fine print. You may be giving access to apps to track your location and putting yourself at risk in other ways as well. Luckily, you can check apps to see which ones you’ve used.

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