Contentment is a difficult concept to define. If you ask 100 people what it looks like, you may get 100 different answers. You have the right to pursue happiness in any way you see fit, within the bounds of the law of course.

There are plenty of scenarios that can ruin your chances at happiness. One of them is having your personal information stolen. In 2023, so much of our information is online, making it an easy target for hackers and phishers.

Protecting that information will ensure that your finances, social security number, address, phone number, and other sensitive data is safe. You will have to take action to secure your personal information online, especially when scams and data hacks are as common as they are today. Here are some ideas to protect yourself in an online world.

Limit Sharing of Personal Information

Unfortunately, using many services available on the Internet means you have to share your personal information a lot. Without a user agreement, you may never know how that data will be used or with whom it will be shared. When you are signing up for services or creating multiple accounts online, it is best to try to limit how often you share certain information, especially compromising data like your address or social security information. Make sure that the website you are on is secure and will protect your information. The more your information is out there, the more likely it is to fall into the wrong hands.

Use VPN Software

Virtual private networks are helpful tools for those concerned about security. When you connect to the Internet, a two-way line of communication is opened between your computer and the website you are visiting. This type of connection could be hacked or open up opportunities for phishers to gain access to your data. A VPN creates a secure connection between your device and the host server of the website you are on. Your IP address is disguised while using a VPN so your device cannot be tracked. Using a tool like VPN can improve the security measures of your online usage.

Be Wary of Internet Downloads

There are many reasons why you may need to download files to your computer. It could be for educational purposes, to fill out important documents, or to consume entertainment. Internet downloads can be very risky since you don’t always know everything that is in the file or if the source of the file is secure. Try to limit Internet downloads to secure sources. Want to download articles about certain topics without putting your computer at risk? Find the best Usenet search product and browse the newsgroups for articles you care about that can be downloaded safely and quickly.

Stop Reusing Passwords

We cannot emphasize this enough…stop using the same password over and over. All it takes is for one hacker to figure out that password and suddenly they can access your finances, email, and other important accounts. It is easy to use the same password over and over again. It takes a little extra effort to ensure your online accounts are isolated and safe from one lucky guess. Take a note of your unique passwords and keep it somewhere safe if you are worried about forgetting them.

Don’t Click on Links in Strange Emails

Our inboxes fill up with hundreds if not thousands of emails every week. Most of these are spam or promotional emails. However, the people sending these emails are not dumb. They have figured out ways to get you to open the email and click on a link that releases a virus into your computer or opens a channel for them to steal your information. The biggest hint to watch for is the sender’s email address. In general, many suspicious emails will come from addresses that are very complex with lots of random numbers and letters. Even if the email is promising you six months of free wifi from Spectrum, do not click on the link before verifying where the email came from. 99% of the time, the offer is too good to be true.

Online Security is Not That Complicated, It Just Takes Effort

None of the steps described above are overly complex. You can adopt them very easily and quickly in most cases, though changing passwords for your many accounts could take some time. Either way, a little effort goes a long way toward improving your online safety. Adopt these practices so that you can avoid costly problems like identity theft, computer viruses, or stolen personal information .