Take steps online to protect your privacy

Online exposure is one of the biggest risks individuals face to their privacy these days. It's also the one many are least prepared to manage. In order to protect yourself, follow these tips:

1. Put an antivirus program on your computer.

It's almost impossible to protect yourself from phishing attempts without an antivirus program on your computer. If you open one wrong email, a program can pull out all your personal data, including chats, emails, credit and banking information and personal photos.

2. Use a password manager.

Do you have trouble keeping track of passwords? Don't let yourself fall into the habit many people do of finding one that works and keeping it for everything, all the time. A password manager is a program that can help you keep unique passwords for each site.

3. Don't share intimate images.

Better yet -- don't allow intimate photographs or videos to ever be taken. Celebrities like Hulk Hogan and Paris Hilton have already learned the hard way that you can't stop your most intimate images from going everywhere if someone is determined to spread them online. With the advent of "revenge porn" sites, no one is really safe from exes with a grudge and access to your images.

4. Make sure you're on a secure connection.

Wi-Fi is free all over these days in hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and more -- but is it safe to use? Probably not. The open access is convenient, but opening your laptop could be inviting a talented thief to casually browse whatever you keep on your laptop.

The invasion of your personal privacy can be devastating. While it is always possible to pursue an invasion of privacy lawsuit in civil court if your private life is publicly exposed, that won't undo the damage to your reputation or life.

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