If you’re like most, you have about 80 apps on your phone but only use about half of them. Most of these apps — even the ones you don’t use — track your location, where you go, your computer settings, what you do online, what’s installed on your phone and computer.


According to Forbes, Google tracks 86% of all page loads from popular websites and Facebook tracks 21%


Marketers utilize this information to feed ads to your devices as you surf the web and can easily connect it to your name, physical and email address, and buying habits.  

You’ll soon have more control over your privacy.


Apple is about to institute new settings on its devices that allow users to control and opt-out of data collection.


Consumer Reports magazine is testing a new way to help consumers manage the information collected by companies in one step.


Google is about to replace ubiquitous “cookie” files, used on nearly all websites, with trackers only Google can access.


What steps can you take now to protect your privacy? Start by downloading and printing this list.

Synovus | Privacy March 2021.001.jpeg

> Hackers got into computers at Underwriters Labs ("UL"), the country's largest safety certification company, and demanded a ransom payment to unlock the data. UL refused to pay and is attempting to recover the data using massive backups. ...


> One of the world's largest investment firms, Sequoia Capital, was hacked in February when an employee opened a fake email and downloaded an attachment. Personal and financial information about employees and investors was stolen. ... 


> Supermarket giant Kroger says about 1% of its pharmacy and money transfer customers' data has been compromised by fraudsters. ...


> One of the most devastating breaches in history, affecting thousands of companies and US government agencies, may be traced, in part, to an easy-to-guess password. Reuters says hackers could access a key Solar Winds computer system by simply entering the password "solarwinds123." ...

> Ignore emails warning you to update Adobe Flash on your computer. Bleeping Computer says these fraudulent emails are designed to look like alerts from Google. 

Click the arrow button to watch the video. 

My insurance company wants to use my Social Security Number as my member ID, is this safe? — Timothy M.

Seriously? Not cool. Only use your social security number for social security-related matters. Does the company give you another option? I'd ask to speak to a manager. And if that doesn't work, I'd consider shopping for an insurance company that cares more about my privacy.

What is the safest web browser to use? — Linda M.

Linda, fortunately, all modern browsers are safe. Some will handle your personal information better than others.


  • Google Chrome: Most popular browser; fastest on Windows devices; requires significant memory and battery resources; will soon adopt its own system for tracking what you do on the web.

  • Apple Safari: only available on Apple devices; fastest for Macs and iPhones; allows you to continue browsing as you switch between Mac devices.

  • Microsoft Edge: requires minimum computing and battery power; can read webpages aloud; offers three privacy settings.

  • Firefox: hides your browsing history from your web provider; lots of add-on software; manages your website passwords.

  • Opera: includes a built-in VPN for privacy; built-in ad blocker; allows you to zoom in to make webpages' text bigger.


Other modern browsers include DuckDuckGo and Brave. Both are good at protecting your privacy online.


Stay safe online by updating your browser whenever asked. Don’t use outdated browsers like Internet Explorer and older versions of Microsoft Edge. You also might find it's easier to use the same browser on your phone that you use on your computer.

I change my Gmail password often, but I continue to find that it has been compromised. How do I protect myself? Is there anything I can do? — Renee H. 

Yes, and this is worth your time because the security of your email password is critical. While it's more important to use a strong password than it is to change it often, let's begin by updating your Gmail password again, just to be safe.


Using your web browser — not your phone's Gmail app — go to your Google account and visit "Sign in and security." Then select "Password." You can use password manager software like Keeper, Last Pass, Dashlane, and 1Password to choose and maintain passwords for you, or you can create your own new password that's at least 15 characters long and includes a number, a symbol like "#" and a mix of upper and lower case letters. Write it down and put it in a safe place. 

Now, let's finish the job. Turn on two-step authentication so the only way to get into your Gmail account is to enter a code that Google sends to your phone. Open your Google account, select "Security" and under "Signing in to Google," turn on 2-step verification.

We view Aware Force from Xtreme Solutions as an extension of our commitment to keeping our clients informed and empowered.


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Xtreme Solutions

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