Each social network offers detailed privacy configuration information. Set all of your online profiles so only those who should have access to your information are granted permission.
Be aware of where you connect
While it is tempting to connect to any open internet network to save a few bucks on data, you may be foregoing security. When asked what public WiFi networks to avoid, Howard gave a concise answer: "I wouldn't connect anywhere."
While it is very difficult to intercept cellular phone signals, picking up information on a shared wireless network is easy for skilled cyber criminals. "If you do need to connect to public WiFi, the rule is simple: Do nothing over that connection but browse the internet."
"Check the football scores or browse online stores," says Howard, "but anything that requires you to enter personal data, log in to anything or provide any credit or bank card information, you don't do on public WiFi."
Using a VPN, or virtual private network, can boost your data security even further, as it creates a tunnel from your device right to a secured server. "If you are tech savvy, a VPN is always going to make you significantly more safe than not using a VPN."
Download and click with care
Properly configured antivirus programs are effective at preventing some of the worst viruses and malware from getting onto your computer and phone, but it takes a vigilant attitude to give your data maximum security.
One of the biggest sources of threats is emails. "In excess of 99 percent of phishing emails contain some form of malware or malicious software," Howard explains. "The greatest area of caution is opening links or emails, regardless if [it] is on a computer or mobile phone."
Never click or download if you don't know it is safe. Even some major news sites have been hacked and infected with malicious advertisements in the past. Keeping your phone and apps updated offers another line of defense against malicious activity.
Your data privacy is in your hands
While you might not think your data is valuable, Howard says that every web user should consider themselves a legitimate target. But by taking small steps today, you can avoid big hassles in the future.
You can begin by adding a lock code to your phone, for instance, and occasionally removing apps you no longer use; then you can graduate to installing antivirus and VPN software on your phone, which will thwart many of the problems before they happen. Prevention, a buzzword in the world of data protection, is what mobile security is all about.