10 Tips for Protecting Your Identity Online
While there is no guarantee your identity won't be stolen, the tips below can assist in taking immediate action on keeping your identity theft online low. Follow these 10 tips to browse, shop and play online with confidence.
- Actively manage your password or passphrase
Your login credentials are your first line of defense against cybercriminals. When creating long passphrases or strong, complex passwords, use an encrypted password manager to store your private login information. This keeps your passwords easily accessible by you and hard to access by anyone else. Storing all those passwords in your browser can leave them vulnerable to malware and other hacks.
- Be cautious of public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is more vulnerable to cyberattacks and hackers. Never access sensitive information like your bank account or credit card information on a public Wi-Fi connection. Instead, do so from your secure personal hot spot, VPN (virtual private network) solution or personal smartphone.
- Only access sites with HTTPS
HTTPS certification indicates that a site is secure and can be trusted. You can identify security certification by the small green lock in the URL bar of your browser and if the URL has “https” at the beginning.
- Always update apps
Security issues are typically fixed through software patches and updates. Download updates from a trusted source as soon as they become available. Pay particular attention to updates for:
- Computer operating systems
- Antivirus software
- Mobile applications
- Web browsers
- Use banking app safety features
See if your bank or credit card has an app available and check out its safety features. Many credit cards offer remote freezing so you can halt suspicious activity with a simple tap of a button.
- Share less on social media
Review your social media profiles to ensure no sensitive or personal information is shared on social media. When updating your status and answering questions, do not reveal information that could be an answer to a security question. Avoid sharing personal information such as your birthplace, names of your children or pets, or the middle school you attended.
Know the source of online quizzes and games requesting verification through social media accounts. These could be a ruse to gain access to your personal information.
- Enable ‘remote find’
Smartphones contain vast amounts of personal and sensitive data. Most smartphones offer a “remote find” option. Enable this feature so you can ping and quickly locate your missing device.
- Set up remote wipe
If you are unable to locate your device quickly, consider clearing its data and returning it to factory settings remotely. Generally, your data is backed up to a cloud for easy retrieval. Some devices offer this security feature by default, but there are also apps available for download.
- Be wary of suspicious emails
Think before you click. Phishing emails are designed to scam recipients into clicking, downloading or transferring information. Do not reply or click any links in an email if you notice any of the following:
- You cannot verify the sender or, when you hover over the email address, it doesn’t match the typical format of a corporate email account.
- The URL is an unexpected destination when you hover over a link.
- There are notable grammar and spelling errors.
- The email appears to be from an employee within your company but lacks a professional signature.
- The message has a generic greeting.
- Create a backup email account
As an added security measure, have a backup email account. If you lose access to your account, you have an option to regain access more easily.
In this world of digitalization and interconnection, it's important to protect ourselves, our friends and our families against cybercrime. Use these 10 tips to do what you can to keep your information safe and secure today.