Protect Your Information Online pinThese days, almost everything is done digitally. We bank online, order dinner online, and make purchases online. All of these things require inputting a username and password, designed to help protect our important information, like credit card, debit card and even Social Security numbers.

To ensure that all of this sensitive data is protected, we’ve compiled some basic security guidelines that will keep your data secure.

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Password-protect your devices

In the unfortunate event that your smartphone, tablet or laptop are ever stolen, it’s vital to have a code that keeps it locked and secure so that any information you have stored on them (or in the apps that you use) is not easily found.

Complicate your passwords

It can be tempting to use a simple password for your important accounts so that you never forget it. But having a password that’s easy to remember also means you have a password that’s easy to guess. Avoid making your password your name, your kids’ or pets’ names, or your birthday because they are the most commonly used passwords and the easiest to hack. Instead, choose a password that is at least eight characters long and contains at least three upper and/or lowercase letters, punctuation, symbols, and numerals, according to Microsoft’s Safety & Security Center online. Also, remember to change your passwords at least every three months, and avoid using the same password for every account you manage online.

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Always update your computer and device software

Updating your computer software not only makes everything run faster and smoother, but it also updates your security in the process. Make sure that you check for software updates at least once a month to keep everything on your devices up to date.

Avoid phishing scams

If you get an email from a friend, family member or colleague with a strange, unidentifiable hyperlink, check with the person first before clicking. If you get an email asking for help or money, send an email in a separate thread asking if the person is really in trouble.

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Keep hard-copy back-ups

In the event that your credit cards are stolen or you lose access to your stored passwords online, make sure to keep backup paper copies of your card information, usernames, and passwords.