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Valley expert gives tips ahead of National Data Privacy Day

(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX — Over the past 10 years, the number of internet users has doubled from two billion to four billion. And with more users means more hackers.

National Data Privacy Day is Jan. 28 and reminds us that while this new decade promises exponential technology development, it’s even more important for users to be vigilant in protecting their privacy.

“One of the common practices that people need to employ is being safe while they’re using search engines,” Susan Anable, vice president of public and government affairs with Cox Communications, told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “You may see a great ad pop up on a search engine for something you want to buy and if you link directly to what you think is that retailer’s site to buy that item, it may not be there.”

Anable said hackers are extremely good at dressing viruses up as ads for things that you would want to buy.

Here are some other helpful tips to protect your information online:

1. Use two-factor authentication. Link up your phone number to your email or login to social media. That way, you are alerted if someone is trying to log into your account.

2. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date. Always be sure to keep your computer up to date so that no new viruses or hackers can get to your information.

3. Start using a digital vault. Create unique passwords that make it harder to hack into your accounts. Cox Communications recommends LastPass. It’s an app that helps you create unique passwords for each site you login to while keeping track of all of those passwords for you. These sites also provide a safe place to store other sensitive data like credit card, social security, driver’s license and passport numbers.

4. Don’t be a spear phishing victim. Emails, texts and even phone calls can look and sound real, but more often than not they’re fake. Don’t fall for anything that’s asking for your private information online.

5. Use a safe WiFi environment. Most everywhere has public WiFi, but it’s not always smart to operate on it if you’re doing something that deserves security. Unsafe WiFi networks can leave you and your information very vulnerable.

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