There are many different crimes that happen in today’s cyber world. Identity theft is one over which you should show major concern. It’s important to take steps to protect yourself. However, there are so many of them to choose from that it’s easy to become overwhelmed and confused. With this in mind, here are a few things that you need to know to keep you and your business safe.
Create Strong, Unique Passwords
Trip Wire says that while it’s easier to continually reuse the same easy-to-remember password, it’s also dangerous to do so. This is because when a cyber thief manages to gain entrance into one of your accounts, they’re then able to gain access into all of your accounts.
Besides not repeating the same password, you should also avoid using common words or phrases, meaningful numbers (e.g. your birthday), and things like “password” or “123456.” Instead, you should find a random password generator tool to use for each individual login. Obviously, this will lead to the creation of numerous passwords, but you can use a password manager to keep track of them.
Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
With 2FA your online accounts are protected from cyber criminals who are able to gain access to your login credentials. This becomes even more important when you use a weak password. By enabling 2FA on those accounts you use on a regular basis (e.g. social media accounts, banking sites), you’ll have these sites generate and send a code to another device you own. You must then enter this code before you’re able to log into your account.
Enable a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN will bounce your data through various national servers so that your IP address and location become masked. The theory behind this is that you’ll become anonymous, even when you’re using an unsecured public Wi-Fi connection. Obviously, VPNs aren’t perfect. However, they do offer you another layer of protection, especially when you use them alongside other security measures.
Never Share or Store Your Personal Information on Social Media
Identity thieves love to hang out on social media networks. All you have to do is look at recent data breaches and you’ll see that even your private information isn’t secure there. Since you can’t prevent cyber hacks, it’s important to minimize what you share with and on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Some of the information you should never share there includes:
- Your full birthdate
- Your address, location, and contact information
- Geotagging on your photos
These tidbits of information may seem innocuous to you by themselves. However, criminals can easily piece them together to form a pretty good picture of who you are. This is also why you should never include all your personal information (e.g. home address, phone number) when you create a new social media profile. This information can get you in trouble if someone with malicious intent manages to hack into your profile. When you leave this information public, everyone can see it without putting forth any effort to do so. With this in mind, you can see why it’s smart to use privacy settings and set your social media accounts to “Friends Only” so only your friends can see any personal information you choose to share. It’s important to remember to check to make sure these settings are still in place after every social network update though. Sometimes they’ll return to default after such updates.
Regularly Check Your Financial Statements and Credit History
There are a lot of identity thieves who want your money. Not only will they use your stolen identity to quickly drain your bank account, but they’ll also open new credit lines in your name then buy a lot of expensive items. This is why it’s so important to closely monitor your bank account and credit card statements. You should also make it a habit to request your credit report at least once a year from each of the three reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It’s also a good idea to consider using an identity theft protection or credit monitoring service. If you want to be proactive, you may even want to go as far as freezing your credit (for free) so thieves can’t open new accounts in your name.
Use Reliable Software
The use of threat detection software will protect you from online scams and hacks. This is because the software can tell you when something is wrong before human eyes could ever detect the issue themselves. Of course, if you’re going to use this as part of your security system, you’ll want to make sure you choose a software that’s reliable.
Check HTTP vs. HTTPS
IT Toolbox says the easiest way to know if you’re visiting a safe site is to make sure it starts with HTTPS (having the “S” on the end means that it’s “secure”). When the site’s address only contains HTTP, it isn’t safe. It’s important to realize that threats aren’t lurking on every corner, but you do need to understand that they could be. Platforms that use HTTPS are more reliable and you don’t stand as great of risk of picking up a harmful piece of software from these sites.
Remove Yourself From Search Engines
The best way to protect your personal information is to completely remove it from the internet. This is because Google makes it extremely easy to find everything about you there. All someone must do is use an advance search feature like inurl: “keyword” then search the internet for anything, including your name. This is something you should do to find your personal information then remove it.
Beware of Phishing Scams
Over the past few years spam emails have really made progress. Now they’re even more dangerous than before. This is why you shouldn’t ever use a password when you respond to emails, even if the email looks like it comes from an official representative. This is something that most customer support teams will tell you – they’ll never ask for your password during the course of a conversation.
Written by Evan Morris