Do these three things now to protect yourself online

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As the New Year brings hope for a healthier year, what about improving your online health? Stories about identity theft and companies tracking your every move might make you wonder if it's time to tighten things up for yourself.

With the help of Consumer Reports, we have online tips and tricks for better security so if your New Year's resolution is to increase your protection, it's one you can actually keep.

Jerry Harris, a small business owner who runs a dog walking service, opened a concerning message from his inbox.

"I received an email from Facebook. It identified that my account had been locked out," he said.

Harris learned that his business's Facebook page had been compromised after a hacker gained access and changed the login.

"The biggest problem of course is that I can no longer control my own business Facebook page," he said.

Harris said he felt helpless, like an outsider looking in on his own business. It's a feeling millions of people experience every year.

"The good news is, there's a lot of easy steps you can take, and the New Year is a great opportunity to give yourself a fresh start," said Thomas Germain of Consumer Reports.

First, CR recommends setting up two-factor authentication, something you might already use with online banking and other more secure sites.

"Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of protection and the idea here is if someone gets a hold of your password, they'll need another piece of information," he said.

Next, guard against phishing, that's where hackers try to get you to give up information about yourself that could help them steal your identity.

"Avoid clicking on links in texts or emails, especially if there's something about that message that seems suspicious," he said.

And finally, it's nearly impossible to remember every password, but there's an easy solution: Use a password manager.

Consumer Reports' top-rated password managers are 1Password, Keeper, and Bitwarden.

As for Harris, he plans on setting up a new, more secure Facebook page for his dog walking business.

"I don't know how they hacked me, but the reality is, had I put better safeguards in place it wouldn't have happened," he said.

Consumer Reports also recommends checking out its personalized security planner at SecurityPlanner.org. You can use that guide to get more detailed and personalized advice for the products and services you use.
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