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DEFENDERS: Five ways to protect your information online

Social media giant Facebook has been the subject of high-profile data investigations recently.

At issue are concerns about the company not protecting personal data from getting into the wrong hands. 

Prasad Calyam, director of cyber-education and research at the University of Missouri, said your data can be collected quickly no matter where you are.

"Technology is progressing at a pace where a lot of data can be collected. Any place there is a keyboard, screen, phone, video camera, microphone. People at any cost want to get data," Calyam said. 

As soon as you sign in to your Facebook account or even type in a Google search, your information is captured then sent off to a server, where it can be stored and sold to third parties. 

It's not just data collected on your computer or phone. Calyam said smart speakers are also possibly listening in on our conversations, picking up on keywords so advertisers can target us. 

While it's nearly impossible to keep all your information private, there are five things you can do to help make it harder to track. 

  1. Clear your browsing history: Doing this makes it harder for companies to trace websites you've visited. It also makes it harder for hackers to steal your information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. 
  2. Increase security settings on social media: Make sure your security settings are updated, such as who can see your information and what apps have access to your profile. 
  3. Install some anti-virus software. 
  4. Close phone apps when you aren't using them: This will help limit app tracking. 
  5. Shut off your phone: If you are really concerned about your information, shutting off your phone will give you an extra layer of security. 

Experts also say using those private or "incognito" windows while on the web doesn't mean you're in the clear. Even though your history is deleted on the web browser, it's still getting captured on a server. 

ABC 17 News Investigates / News

Deborah Kendrick

Deborah is a weekday morning anchor and investigative reporter for ABC 17 News.

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