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I know you’ll love these Ten Tips to Stay Safe Online in 2018.

The more you know, the safer you’ll feel! Don’t put your head in the sand and wish that “things were different.”

Potential Risks of not being safe online:

Financial loss.

Loss of job due to tarnished online reputation.

Online information damaging relationships with family/friends.

Being bullied or harassed online.

Loss of personal privacy.

Poor Performance of Computer.

Data Loss.

Spyware, Adware, or other tracking software, if not cleaned out will shorten the life of your computer.

ARE YOU SCARED? BUT WAIT! The more you know, the safer you’ll feel! Don’t put your head in the sand and wish that “things were different.” 

In this blog I’m going to give you permission to hang up, block and be safe online and to quit taking the internet so personally.  Use social media, the internet and your computer to serve you, not enslave you, waste your time or endanger you. With these 10 tips, you’ll stay safe online and feel safer. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a happier life because you will, hopefully, be staying offline a lot more!

Ten Tips to Help You Stay Safe Online:

  1. Don’t Answer Your Cell Phone unless the caller I.D. states that it’s someone you already know.

A majority of cold-calls lead to interacting with companies or bogus companies online which leads to malicious malware or worse: Ransomware. 

You should have already set up a bunch of Instant Messages in your iPhone or Droid that you use when you get unknown callers. With a flick of a finger, you will tell the caller that you are busy right now; and could they please text you what this call is about or leave a message? Most of the time you’ll get an instant message stating that the number is invalid to receive text messages. SPAMMER! And, if they didn’t leave you a voice mail, then it surely was a spammer. Furthremore, if you do get a voicemail, and it sounds suspicious, Ignore it! Real information will come your way in your email inbox and in snail mail.

I GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO IGNORE ALL CALLS THAT MAKE YOU GO “HUH….?”

QUIT BEING SO CURIOUS, ANGRY & BOTHERED by spammer call-bots. ← Let it go and ignore it. The Government is supposed to protect us from this nuisance but does not have enough people on the payroll to help you. (And some Government elected-officials reward big companies who donate to their political campaigns – it should not be so surprising that so many companies get to us, even with the (now useless) do-not call list.)

Call-bot Spammers want your information. The companies that use auto-dialers and call-bots are not all dangerous but if you didn’t ask them to call you, avoid them!

  1. Clean Out Your Email Box

   Part of the reason we sometimes click on something bad in our emails is that we get too much.

Email Spam-Bots ← are getting smarter and smarter. They can look like the companies you follow and receive emails from. They’ll send emails and have URLs and logo that look so similar to trusted companies. Be careful that you know who emailed you or you’ll end up clicking or downloading nasties like malware in your computer because you weren’t paying attention.

Use an app such as Unroll.Me 

If you have less clutter in your inbox, you won’t feel as rushed and make mistakes.

  1. Now that Net Neutrality is dead (thank you, government!) your privacy is at risk. The Fix: Use a VPN

In a recent Mashable Article, “The FCC has decided that large internet service providers (ISPs) like Xfinity, Verizon, RCN, and any other company in the game can charge customers premium rates for faster internet access. This decision was also significant in that it set ISPs significantly free from the confines of government oversight, and it is sparking justifiable privacy concerns as deregulation could empower ISPs to peek into our browsing behavior even more than they already do, or worse, sell that data.”

In the article, Mashable gives you 5 VPN’s that you can download. A VPN is a “Virtual Private Network.” By using a VPN, you can protect yourself from companies selling your information as well as have access to the web with protections that encrypt your data from ISP’s, such as Xfinity, Verizon, RCN, Att, etc.

I’ll give you the link to the article.  http://mashable.com/2017/12/14/best-vpns-for-online-privacy-on-sale/#7siUQBnh5Sq7 

I’m certainly going to go the VPN route when I get a new computer in the next few months.

  1. Don’t Automatically follow Anyone on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram!

I know, I know. I keep telling you to watch out for bots and malware. But bots on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram look a lot like real accounts. In fact, they even use your  friend’s names that you follow and pictures of real people and friends!

The problem is that you think, “Hey! I must have unfollowed or un-friended them.” Or, they look nice, so I’ll follow them. But then “they” have access to your followers and who you follow. And, with Facebook, you’ll begin to get messages on Facebook Messenger which can be really creepy and lead to you playing a video or clicking on a dangerous link that will infect your smartphone.

Check out every single person who you are considering following. If they don’t have a website, a proper profile, or posts and pictures and they look like someone you don’t want to be connected to online: block them.

  1. Protect your Mental Health

Passively scrolling Facebook’s News Feed will make you feel worse about yourself. It can lead to depression. Notice how I said, “Facebook’s News Feed.” Facebook owns your Facebook Feed and it’s there solely to advertise to you, first and foremost. You think it was made to keep up with your friends and family. That’s sweet.

Do you know who gave the warning that scrolling the Facebook Feed is not so good for you? Facebook! But they know you’re not going to listen to good advice. You’re going to keep scroll, scroll, scrolling because you’re addicted to what’s next, after you watch the dolphin video.

Do not spend more than 5 minutes a day on Facebook! Be strategic. See who and what you want and then: Go Have a LIFE! Get involved with real organization that align with your views and hobbies. You can communicate with those groups on their Facebook Pages or email! But, no more: scroll, scroll, scroll!

“In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward.” – FACEBOOK

The Verge had a great article on the matter: Click Here https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/15/16781448/facebook-makes-you-feel-bad-study-research

  1. Make Sure Your Website Uses a Security Plugin.

If you have a WordPress website and you update it yourself, make sure you use a plugin such as Sacuri or Wordfence Security. Once you hooks these up, you’ll begin to see how many website break in attempts in one day happen. It’s a lot.

I like the Plugins that allow me to Whitelist apps. Whitelisting is  simply telling the Security plugin that the website or plugin that is in use is a good one.

Make sure you update your plugins weekly. Updates, whether they are for your computer or smartphone or plugins or websites: are all about new security walls and patches to security problems found.

Old plugins from plugin developers that have abandoned their plugins are not good. Get rid of those plugins and replace them with new.

Or, better yet, do without as many plugins as possible. The more plugins you have, the slower your website will be and the more security risks you will have on your website.

  1. Protect Your Computer from Spyware.

Semantic and even your Dell or Apple company that makes your PC or laptop may try to tell you that viruses are the worst thing that can happen to your computer. They even make it seem like they got you covered from viruses and even malware with their apps and programs. But that’s not the case.

There’s more viruses and malware and ransomware being made so fast, that they can’t keep up.

That’s why I have a paid version of Antispyware. ← Get it. Get the Free version and run it manually and update it every day. It helps to remove threats and unknown items that come with just surfing the net. The paid version is cheap and runs automatically unless you turn off your computer at night, like I do. I update and run Anti-spyware every morning when I turn my computer on.

I also recommend Using White Cloud Security. ← Full Disclosure here: my brother, Jess Elshere, is head of sales for White Cloud. What it does is block any updates, or downloads that you have not cleared to be okay. This operating system is great for businesses. A Must!!!! Use White Cloud if your livelihood is your computer. (Like me!) You’ll learn how to use it, quickly, if you’ve ever lost everything to malware or ransomware in the past. Governments around the world use White Cloud Security and now it’s available for everyone.

  1. Don’t Play Videos that are sent by people you don’t know on Messenger; AS WELL AS FROM YOUR FRIENDS IF YOU’RE NOT EXPECTING VIDEOS AND PICS FROM THEM

I just got one this morning by someone I didn’t know! Is this spam or malware? Or just an innocent looking video to start a later conversation to get you to divulge information or get you to download malware or a virus? The best thing you can do is click on the profile of the “person” who sent you the file, and then, in the upper right hand corner, keep clicking until you get to “block them on messenger and Facebook.” Block, Block, Block!

If you’re not expecting your friends to send stuff like video and documents and files, then they may have been hacked. Don’t feel bad. Just Block them and call your friend later. It’s not personal and quit feeling bad. Online is “a thing.” It’s not real and it’s not personal. If your friends and sister-in-law get mad that you don’t see thier post, just spend more time with them. They will get over it. Not following someone is not a snubbing of your real real-time friendship!

BTW: ALWAYS FOLLOW Me and watch and read EVERYTHING I put on the internet because I’m here to help you. (If you want to inquire about my services though, I’ll be happy to help you.) CLICK←

  1. Use Complex and Secure Passwords.

One recent study showed that a 6-character passwords with all lower case letters can be broken in under 6 minutes!

  1. Use strong passwords
  2. Don’t use the same password for ALL of your accounts
  3. Don’t share your password with friends
  4. Change your password regularly
  5. Consider storing your password in a password tool
  6. Add a security question and your mobile phone number in the ACCOUNT
  1. PLEASE train your elders.

Remind them that nothing they look at online is a “they.” Not ATT. Not anything on Facebook. It’s all a big IT, until proven otherwise. So take every precaution by telling them how to be careful and scare them if you have to or take away the iPad. Protecting Grandma may be protecting your inheritance or peace of mind regarding a loved one.

All of this online Security Talk leads me to tell you: Being online is not personal. Social Media Addiction makes you FEEL like you’re actually accomplishing things, like changing people’s opinions by reposting political articles that align with what you believe in. But you’re actually doing nothing. The people you’re reaching already believe in what you are saying. And the ones who disagree have probably already put a filter over your posts and they don’t see them. They may have even blocked you!

The biggest way to stay safe is to have real relationships. Have real-world goals. And use your online usage to help you purchase, connect and accomplish your goals daily and then get off of the computer. Don’t surf or scroll passively. It’s your biggest waste of time and completely detrimental to your mental health and open you up to risking clicking on something you had no intention of clicking onto.
Jon-David is an social media specialist who helps brands, individuals, organizations to succeed on line. 

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