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News | How to keep your personal information safe without completely unplugging from social media

Mohamed Hakim

Facebook's data scandal has made some people nervous about staying on the social network.

There are ways to keep yourself plugged in without deleting Facebook, or compromising your data, CNET explains.
It seems every other week there's a new data breach, hack or security issue. It's no surprise that it makes some feel paranoid when it comes to using the Internet. So how can technology users stay secure without completely unplugging?

For at least some of Facebook's more than 2 billion users, they may be wondering if it's time to join the "#deletefacebook" movement.

"I think the problem is Facebook has gotten so big, and we use it in so many parts of our lives, that it's past that tipping point where it's more trouble to get off it than it is to stay on it - no matter what they do," CNET section editor Dan Ackerman told CNBC's "On the Money" in an interview.
According to a survey conducted in March by investment firm Raymond James, only 8 percent of people said they "will stop using Facebook," in light of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Meanwhile, just 20 percent said they would use it "significantly less."

So if you plan on staying on the social media network but are still concerned, Ackerman recommends diving into your Facebook settings and adjusting them.

"You can limit a lot of the stuff that they share about you or that they target you against," said Ackerman.

He added: "It's a lot clearer now than it was maybe a year ago or so. They have a pretty good privacy information page that takes you step by step through a lot of what they do."

Don't sweat the web cam
When it comes to web cams and microphones, should users be covering them up, or is that extreme?

Ackerman said that "most people don't have to worry about putting the 'Post It' note on the web cam, because web cam hacking is a very targeted attack." But if you are a nuclear scientist, a spy, or have something confidential to hide — then you may want to reconsider, he added.

As for passwords, it's hard to remember a different password for every site that requires one. According to 2016 poll conducted by Pew Research, nearly 40 percent of people use the same, or very similar passwords across different websites.

Experts, however, state that using different passwords is one of the best defenses you can practice. That's because once your information gets hacked, a bad actor can try those same credentials on various websites, and easily get access.

Ackerman recommends checking your email with www.haveibeenpwned.com, a website that aggregates accounts that have been compromised in a data breach.

If you have trouble remembering you passwords, Ackerman suggests using a password manager, but if you're not comfortable keeping your information in the Cloud – try good old pen and paper.

"The physical security of that piece of paper may be better than the electronic security of a notepad file on your phone, or emailing it to yourself, or reusing the password," Ackerman added.

On the Money airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.