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upworthy
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17 tips to avoid getting hacked that you might have forgotten—or never even knew

A few lessons from IT professionals about securing your personal data.

identity theft, getting hacked, hackers, computer protection
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There are unsavory people interested in your information.

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Mozilla

In 2009, Scott McGready stumbled on a massive phishing scam targeting his company's email server.

Thousands of emails bombarded the company in a short period of time. They all came from the same source, pretending to be someone or something they weren't in order to lure people into clicking on shady links and giving up their personal data.

"While investigating it, I stumbled upon the phisher's database which had [the] personal data of thousands of people," McGready says. "I was surprised how little effort was required on the fraudster's part to acquire such a trove of information."


This discovery sparked McGready's interest in information security and teaching others how to protect themselves from fraud. Since then, this journey has taken him from the U.K.'s National Trading Standards department to the documentary series "Secrets of the Scammers" to his own company and beyond.

Here are just a few lessons from McGready — and some other IT professionals — about securing your personal data:

data hacking, browsing, protection, financial

Is your information protected online?

Stomchak/Wikimedia Commons

1. Know there is a LOT of data about you online.

"Having data readily available online means that things like phishing emails can be automatically tailored to targets without much effort," McGready says.

But what does "data" really mean in this case? Um. Er. Pretty much everything. Even if we don't realize it. Something as simple as your basic browsing habits and location history can actually reveal a lot about you. Even if your name's not attached to it, a savvy social hacker could still figure something out.

2. Be aware that your friends may expose info about you — even if you're not on social media.

"We tend to share every detail of our lives on social media because we feel obliged to by peer pressure — whether that be adding your birthday to your Facebook profile because the website keeps asking for it," McGready says. But it's worse when your friend tags you in that photo from high school with your school mascot in the background and — oops. There goes another security question.

social media, data leak, Facebook, friends

Things don't always go as planned with technology.

Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

3. Pay attention so you can mitigate the risks (though probably not completely avoid them).

McGready recommends keeping your social media profiles as private as possible and asking your friends and family to do the same. "Even those that intentionally aren't on social media may be easily findable by their friends or family that share the 'dinner table selfie.'"

4. It's better to be proactive than wait until you're compromised.

"We hear about data leaks almost every week, it seems," McGready says. "The general public are no longer asking 'if' their data is compromised, but rather 'when.'"

This might sound scary. But it's also a good reminder to stay sharp.

public, risk, education, accounts

Do you know everyone that's using your computer?

Image via Pixabay.

5. Check the Facebook apps and third-party services that might have access to your account.

"It's worth checking what data you share with specific companies and only giving out the bare minimum in case of a data breach in the future," McGready explains.

For example: Does Bejeweled Blitz really need permission to access everything you've ever put on Facebook, to post on your behalf, and to spam your friends and family? It's not just annoying — it puts you at risk if that information leaks.

6. Take some time to get rid of those old accounts.

A clever hacker might still be able to figure out something through your iwasdefinitelyacool15yearold@aol.com email address. "Many of us, myself included, also have a large number of 'dormant accounts' on websites that we no longer use," McGready says. "I'd fully recommend logging into these accounts and changing all the profile information before deleting the account."

science, history, websites, companies

It's important to know what accounts are open in your name.

Photo from Daderot/Wikimedia Commons.

7. Don't feel bad if it happens to you. Even IT professionals fall for it!

Georgia Bullen, technology projects director for New America's Open Technology Institute, recounts how she was hacked:

"My password wasn't secure enough and so someone had built a program that was logging into not-secure-enough accounts and then spamming."

What she felt at the time is all too familiar for anyone who's been hacked: "Embarrassed, confused, and then really worried that someone else was going to click on something from me."

8. Be smart, pay attention, and know what you're getting into with any website or service you sign up for.

This bears repeating because a little awareness can make a big difference.

security, passwords, service, defense

What type of security for your accounts do you have?

Photo by Marcello Casal Jr/ABr/Wikimedia Commons.

9. Have a solid P@$w0rds plan.

Passwords are the Achilles' heel of the modern world — but there's a trick.

"It's totally possible [for hackers] to take one password, see where you've re-used it, and then get access to those accounts as well. And that's where the bigger danger happens," explains Harlo Holmes from the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

That's why, in general, passwords should be different for every website or service used, and consist of three random words, interspersed with special characters; a DiceWare password like "correct horse battery staple" is a good place to start.

Password managers can help out by creating unique passwords for you. Which leads to...

10. Use a password manager.

Password managers can generate strong, random passwords for you. And they keep track of all of your different passwords so you don't need to memorize them yourself.

All you need to do is remember one super-secure master password in order to unlock every other possible password combination. That way, says Bullen, you can't even make the mistake of verbally giving your password away because you genuinely don't know it yourself! (Unless it's your master password, in which case, ya know, don't do that.)

11. Set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for added security.

Safety is good, but a back-up plan is even better. 2FA sends a code to a device on your person just to make sure that the person logging in is really you. Even if your password does get compromised, the hacker probably doesn't have access to your smartphone, too. (Probably.)

Mozilla's Amira Dhalla explains how it works:

12. Consider using a separate email address — with a separate strong password — for important accounts like banking.

That way, even if you do use the same password elsewhere, hackers will have a harder time getting in to your important accounts. (Make sure this secondary email account has two-factor authentication, too!)

13. Be sure to hover over links before you click them.

"Links may look legitimate, but upon hovering, they actually redirect to a completely different place," McGready says. (Don't believe me? See what happens when you click on www.upworthy.com/definitely-not-an-upworthy-page.)

14. Always double-check the URL in the address bar. (But even that's not always safe.)

Ever notice that green padlock in your browser bar? It's a good sign! ... except when it's not. As McGready explains, "While it's true that this means your data is encrypted between your computer and the website itself, it doesn't legitimize the website."

routers, world wide web, computers, Wi-Fi

Using default passwords on the computer router can leave you vulnerable..

Photo by Michael Geiger on Unsplash

15. Secure your router.

It may seem harmless to use the default password for your router, but that can actually leave you vulnerable to hackers (there are even websites that can be used to find out different routers' default settings). And someone accessing your router can access pretty much your entire home network. So it's worth taking that small extra step of setting up a strong user name and password.

16. Be wary: These days, the internet is in everything from lightbulbs to baby diapers. Which is super cool! And bad.

McGready sees "the internet of things," or IoT, as the biggest online threat on the horizon. Even if you have worried about Amazon spying on you, you probably didn't consider who else could be spying on you through a vulnerable Wi-Fi or Bluetooth system built into your smart home. "The issue comes when these wireless chips are integrated by default on all products, whether the customer wants them or not," McGready explains.

17. Exercise a little extra caution.

It all boils down to the fact that humans are too trusting.

We trust that our friends aren't going to expose our address over Twitter. We trust that some disgruntled Angry Birds employee won't hijack our linked Facebook page because we didn't pay attention to permissions. We trust the green padlock in the browser bar that keeps our credit cards secure, even if the website taking that information wants to use it for a shady purpose.

Simply put, we trust that the internet is mostly good and that people are, too.

It's hard to solve a problem you can't see — which is why McGready is so passionate about teaching online safety.

"Show the public exactly what is possible and what they should be watching out for," McGready says. "It's one thing to tell someone that a scammer can send a text which appears to be from a legitimate company or a known person; it's another thing entirely to send a text to that person's phone which comes from 'Mum.'"

There's no "one weird trick" to protect us from the dangers of technology. But we can do our due diligence — as long as we know where to start.

This article originally appeared on 06.19.17

True

Music’s biggest night took place Sunday, February 4 with the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Now, fans have the opportunity to take home a piece of the famed event.

Longtime GRAMMY Awards partner Mastercard is using this year’s campaign to shine a light on the environment and the Priceless Planet Coalition (PPC), a forest restoration program with the goal of restoring 100 million trees. Music fans are 1.5 times more likely to take action to help the environment, making the GRAMMY Awards the perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

“Through our GRAMMY Awards campaign, we’ve created an opportunity for our brand, our partners and consumers to come together over shared values, to participate during a moment when we can celebrate our passion for music and our commitment to make meaningful investments to preserve the environment,” says Rustom Dastoor, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, North America at Mastercard.

The campaign kicked off with an inspired self-guided multi-sensory tour at the GRAMMY House presented by Mastercard, where people journeyed through their passion of music and educational experience about Mastercard’s longstanding commitment to tree restoration. Then, this year’s most-nominated GRAMMY artist and a passionate voice for the environment, SZA, led the charge with the debut performance of her new song, Saturn.

Mastercard’s partners are also joining the mission by encouraging people all over the country to participate; Lyft and Sirius XM are both offering ways for consumers to get involved in the Priceless Planet Coalition. To learn more about how you can support these efforts, visit mastercard.com/forceofnature.

While fashion is always a highlight of any GRAMMY Awards event, SZA’s outfit worn during her performance of Saturn was designed to make a statement; made of tree seeds to help spread awareness. Fans can even comment ‘🌱’ and tag a friend on Mastercard’s designated post of SZA’s GRAMMY House performance for a chance to win a tree seed from the performance outfit*.

“SZA has a personal passion for sustainability – not just in forest restoration but in the clothes she wears and the platforms and partners she aligns herself with. It was important to us to partner with someone who is not only showing up big at the GRAMMY Awards – as the most GRAMMY-nominated artist this year – but also showing up big for the environment,” says Dastoor.

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How often do you change your sheets?

If you were to ask a random group of people, "How often do you wash your sheets?" you'd likely get drastically different answers. There are the "Every single Sunday without fail" folks, the "Who on Earth washes their sheets weekly?!?" people and everyone in between.

According to a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Mattress Advisor, the average time between sheet changings or washings in the U.S. is 24 days—or every 3 1/2 weeks, approximately. The same survey revealed that 35 days is the average interval at which unwashed sheets are "gross."

Some of you are cringing at those stats while others are thinking, "That sounds about right." But how often should you wash your sheets, according to experts?

Hint: It's a lot more frequent than 24 days.

While there is no definitive number of days or weeks, most experts recommend swapping out used sheets for clean ones every week or two.

Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD told Cleveland Clinic that people should wash their sheets at least every two weeks, but probably more often if you have pets, live in a hot climate, sweat a lot, are recovering from illness, have allergies or asthma or if you sleep naked.

We shed dead skin all the time, and friction helps those dead skin cells slough off, so imagine what's happening every time you roll over and your skin rubs on the sheets. It's normal to sweat in your sleep, too, so that's also getting on your sheets. And then there's dander and dust mites and dirt that we carry around on us just from living in the world, all combining to make for pretty dirty sheets in a fairly short period of time, even if they look "clean."

Maybe if you shower before bed and always wear clean pajamas you could get by with a two-week sheet swap cycle, but weekly sheet cleaning seems to be the general consensus among the experts. The New York Times consulted five books about laundry and cleaning habits, and once a week was what they all recommend.

Sorry, once-a-monthers. You may want to step up your sheet game a bit.

What about the rest of your bedding? Blankets and comforters and whatnot?

Sleep.com recommends washing your duvet cover once a week, but this depends on whether you use a top sheet. Somewhere between the Gen X and Millennial eras, young folks stopped being about the top sheet life, just using their duvet with no top sheet. If that's you, wash that baby once a week. If you do use a top sheet, you can go a couple weeks longer on the duvet cover.

For blankets and comforters and duvet inserts, Sleep.com says every 3 months. And for decorative blankets and quilts that you don't really use, once a year washing will suffice.

What about pillows? Pillowcases should go in with the weekly sheet washing, but pillows themselves should be washed every 3 to 6 months. Washing pillows can be a pain, and if you don't do it right, you can end up with a lumpy pillow, but it's a good idea because between your sweat, saliva and skin cells, pillows can start harboring bacteria.

Finally, how about the mattress itself? Home influencers on TikTok can often be seen stripping their beds, sprinkling their mattress with baking soda, brushing it into the mattress fibers and then vacuuming it all out. Architectural Digest says the longer you leave baking soda on the mattress, the better—at least a few hours, but preferably overnight. Some people add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda for some extra yummy smell.

If that all sounds like way too much work, maybe just start with the sheets. Pick a day of the week and make it your sheet washing day. You might find that climbing into a clean, fresh set of sheets more often is a nice way to feel pampered without a whole lot of effort.

5 surprising ways THC Seltzers enhance relaxation

Cycling Frog offers a Unique Beverage Experience for modern drinkers

In a world where relaxation often feels like a luxury, THC seltzers are emerging as a refreshing solution. With the buzz around cannabis products reaching new heights, these fizzy beverages are making waves for their unique ability to blend relaxation with enjoyment. Among the pioneers in this burgeoning market is Cycling Frog, a brand that's not just hopping onto the trend but leaping ahead with its innovative offerings.

By infusing the calming properties of THC into delicious seltzers, Cycling Frog is offering modern drinkers a whole new way to unwind. This article will explore five surprising ways these THC seltzers enhance relaxation, demonstrating how Cycling Frog stands out in this effervescent field.

Enhanced Relaxation

THC, the natural compound found in cannabis, is no stranger to its reputation for promoting relaxation and easing stress. But what happens when this age-old relaxant meets modern innovation? Enter Cycling Frog's THC seltzers, a delightful twist on traditional methods.

These seltzers encapsulate the essence of relaxation in a can, offering a convenient and contemporary approach to unwinding. Whether you’re looking to de-stress after a long day or seeking a gentle chill during a weekend hangout, these seltzers are the perfect companions, providing a subtle, soothing experience that fits seamlessly into our fast-paced lives.

Unique Flavors

Cycling Frog's THC seltzers aren't just about relaxation; they're a carnival of flavors waiting to tantalize your taste buds. Imagine sipping on the tartly sweet Ruby Grapefruit, a perfect blend of citrus zing that invigorates as it relaxes. Or dive into the bold, award-winning Wild Cherry, a flavor that's as playful as it is soothing. And for those seeking a tropical escape, the Guava Passionfruit is like a mini-vacation in every can, offering a serene taste of paradise. Each flavor is a unique adventure, ensuring every sip is a moment of relaxation and an exploration of delightful tastes.

Quality and Sustainability

A deep-rooted commitment to quality and sustainability is at the heart of Cycling Frog's ethos. They're not just creating THC seltzers; they're cultivating a better future. By embracing sustainable farming practices and performing rigorous testing for quality control, Cycling Frog ensures that the hemp in their seltzers is grown with care and respect for the environment. This hemp is 100% pesticide-free, guaranteeing a pure, unadulterated experience in every can. That’s why all our packaging contains a QR code that directs consumers directly to ourtesting results.This dedication to quality doesn't just impact the environment positively; it elevates the sipping experience, ensuring that each fizzy drink is enjoyable and responsibly crafted. With Cycling Frog, you're not just tasting a seltzer; you're savoring a commitment to a healthier planet and a superior product.

Health and Wellness

In today's fast-paced world, finding a moment of tranquility can be a treasure. That's where THC seltzers, like those from Cycling Frog, step in. Not only do they offer a delightful taste experience, but they also bring health and wellness benefits. THC is known for its potential to ease stress and anxiety, making these seltzers more than just a refreshing drink. They're a gentle nod to self-care, a way to help quiet the mind and soothe the soul in natural, enjoyable sips. It's relaxation, reimagined for our busy lives – a small, fizzy step towards better mental well-being.

Delivered To Your Door

Getting your hands on a Cycling Frog THC seltzer is as easy as a few clicks. Their user-friendly online store brings relaxation right to your doorstep. Just browse, select your favorite flavors, and voilà – a box of serene, bubbly bliss is on its way to you. This convenience means no more store runs, just pure relaxation delivered. Whether at home or planning a get-together, these seltzers are just a few taps away, ensuring that unwinding with Cycling Frog is always within easy reach.

Visit Cycling Frog to learn more and experience THC Seltzers for yourself.

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NICU nurse adopts 14-year-old patient who delivered triplets alone

“I knew it would be impossible to find a foster home that would take all four of them. No one was going to take a teen mom and her preemie triplets.”

NICU nurse adopts teen with three babies.

Having your first baby is a scary experience. Everything is new—you've quite literally never done this before—not to mention an entire human is going to be removed from your body one way or another. Childbirth, no matter how your baby leaves your body, is not for the weak. But imagine giving birth alone to not just one baby, but three, all at the same time. Then imagine doing that feat at the age of 14.

Shariya Small experienced that scenario in a hospital in Indiana, and her nurse Katrina Mullen took note. Small's babies were premature, born at just 26 weeks, when the average gestation for triplets is 33 weeks, according to ReproductiveFacts.org. Due to their early birth, the babies, Serenitee, Samari and Sarayah, had to stay in the NICU at Community Hospital North in Indianapolis for more than five months, according to Today.com.

During their time in the NICU, Mullen noticed the young mom visited her babies alone, not appearing to have much of a support system. “She’d be there alone for days at a time sitting at her babies’ bedside,” Mullen told Today.com.

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5 reasons WishGarden Herbs is revolutionizing herbal supplements

Discover the artisanal approach and deep-rooted wisdom behind today’s most innovative herbal solutions

In a world where wellness often comes bottled in synthetic formulas, WishGarden Herbs stands out like a breath of fresh mountain air. Established in 1979, this family-owned gem has been quietly revolutionizing the herbal supplement industry with its artisanal approach and a deep-rooted wisdom that only comes from decades of dedicated practice. Nestled in the lush landscapes of Colorado, WishGarden Herbs is not just another supplement company; it's a beacon of hope for those seeking a more natural path to health and well-being.

So, what makes them so unique? From their handcrafted, small-batch production methods to their commitment to sustainability and community, each reason is a testament to their unwavering dedication to redefining herbal wellness. Get ready to be enlightened, inspired, and, perhaps, pleasantly surprised!

Tradition Meets Innovation

At WishGarden Herbs, the past and future of herbalism blend seamlessly. Born in the heart of the herbal renaissance of the late 70s, this trailblazing company has its roots firmly planted in traditional herbal wisdom. It's not just about herbs; it's about a legacy of healing, and a deep understanding of plant power passed down through generations.

But don't think that WishGarden is stuck in the past for a second. They're leading the charge with modern innovation, like crafting condition-specific blends that are as unique as the individuals they help. This fusion of time-honored knowledge with cutting-edge science isn't just revolutionary—it's changing the game in herbal supplements, making ancient wisdom accessible and relevant in our modern world.

Artisanal Quality in Every Bottle

In a world where mass production is king, WishGarden Herbs stands out with its commitment to artisanal craftsmanship. Each bottle of their herbal extract is crafted with the kind of personal touch that only small-batch production can offer. Their herbalists blend each formula with a meticulous eye for detail, ensuring that every drop holds the essence of nature's healing power.

This isn't your run-of-the-mill, factory-line supplement. It's a labor of love, where quality trumps quantity every time. In every bottle from WishGarden, you're not just getting an herbal supplement. You're experiencing the culmination of care, expertise, and passion. This unwavering dedication to artisanal quality sets each of their products apart as a true testament to the power of handcrafted perfection.

Pioneering Specific Condition Blends

WishGarden Herbs isn't just mixing herbs for the sake of it; they're pioneers in creating specific blends for specific conditions. It's like having a herbal concierge for your health. Whether it's a blend to soothe your stress, boost your immune system, or enhance your sleep, they've got an herbal remedy tailored just for that.

This isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Each blend is a symphony of ingredients chosen for their targeted efficacy and safety, working harmoniously to address your unique health needs. With formulations for the whole family—kids, pregnancy, postpartum and adults—this thoughtful, precise formulation makes their products not just supplements but personalized herbal solutions. With WishGarden, you're not just taking herbs. You're embarking on a wellness journey.

Commitment to Sustainability

WishGarden Herbs isn’t just about what’s inside the bottle; their heart beats for the planet, too. In a world crying out for sustainability, they're not just listening—they're leading. WishGarden Herbs ensures every single ingredient is sustainably sourced, respecting the earth and the delicate balance of our ecosystems. And in 2023, their peerless commitment to green practices was officially recognized by the Nutrition Business Journal, which awarded WishGarden Herbs their prestigious Supply Chain Integrity Award.

At WishGarden Herbs, sustainability is more than just a business model; it's a pledge to Mother Nature. By choosing wild-harvested and organic herbs, WishGarden is tapping into the pulse of what conscious consumers crave today—products that heal us and the planet. So, when you pick a WishGarden product, you're not just choosing your health. You're also choosing the Earth's well-being.

Community and Education Focus

WishGarden Herbs
goes beyond just selling products; they're nurturing a community. Through educational efforts and outreach, they're spreading the word about the wonders of herbal remedies.

It's not just about buying herbs; it's about understanding them, too. They empower their customers with knowledge, transforming them from mere consumers into informed, health-conscious community members.

Learn More

Ready to join the herbal revolution? Click here to dive into WishGarden Herbs and discover the blend that speaks to your health needs. It's more than a supplement; it's a step towards empowered, natural wellness. Choose WishGarden, where every bottle promises purity, potency, and planetary love.
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What would happen if all the Earth's ice melted?

There will be serious problems on both U.S. coasts.

What would happen if all the ice melted?

Ten percent of the land area on Earth is covered with glacial ice, which includes ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica, ice caps and glaciers. Unfortunately, 750 billion tons of Earth’s ice is melting yearly due to climate change.

If climate change isn’t stopped, this will lead to disastrous consequences for the entire planet.

"As a result of this, ice around the world is melting and raising the planet's sea level. The oceans already rose 6 centimeters during the course of the 19th century. But they rose by 19 centimeters during the 20th century, over 3 times faster than they rose in the previous century,” says a video produced by Real Life Lore. “NOAA estimates that global sea level could rise by up to 2.5 meters by the year 2100. Which would have devastating consequences."

Real Life Lore has over 7 million subscribers to its videos covering geography and world populations.

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Teacher asks teen daughter to mend a student's coat and gets it back with a funny surprise

“My student was grinning when he showed me the note. He kept looking at it in class and smiling..."

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Sweetness stitched into every bit of this story.

Some stories are wholesome. Others are hilarious. Others still restore some faith in humanity. This one is a combination of all three.

A teacher shared on Reddit how he took his student’s torn coat home so that his crafty daughter could mend the pocket. As he explained in his post, the student didn't seem to have the funds to fix it on his own or replace the jacket.

His daughter didn’t only sew up the jacket, but left her own cheeky bit of “11th grade advice” in note hidden in the coat’s pocket.

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