Many of us spend a lot of time online. Our tech gadgets have not only made us more connected than ever before. We shop, use social media to connect with family and friends, send personal and business emails, pay bills, manage our finances, and more. Although these little tasks are made easier, doing them online increases the chance that a thief may steal our information without our knowledge. This makes it incredibly important to ensure our personal information is safe from thieves. Once your information is compromised, it takes time and energy to get back what you've lost. Here's how to protect your information online.

Create strong passwords. It sounds simple, but a strong password can prevent a thief from getting into your accounts and stealing your information. A strong password includes a mix of numbers, symbols, capital and lower case letters, has a minimum of 12 characters and isn't an obvious word found in the dictionary

Activate the firewall on your computer. The firewall is the network security system that controls access to the computer. When used with an anti-virus/malware software and anti-spyware software, it can protect the information on your computer from becoming compromised.

Set your social media profiles to private. Make sure you review your security settings. This can help prevent strangers from viewing your photos. Also, be careful about what you post online -- don't post anything with your address or other personal information.

Secure your mobile devices. Only download apps and information from trusted sources. Many people use their phones to take photos, shop, bank, send email, and more. Lock your screen to prevent thieves from accessing your information and be mindful of what you download.

Keep your systems updated. Install the latest operating system updates, which may include patches and other solutions for potential security issues

Use encryptionThis will protect personal data from tax returns or financial records.

Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi networksOnly use private networks to conduct financial or corporate transactions.

Protect your e-identity. Be cautious when giving out personal information on the internet. Always use your privacy settings and only make purchases from secure sites.

Don't click on links or files from unknown origins. If you don't know who sent it, don't open it. Additionally, never reply to emails asking to verify your information or confirm your username or password.