Hackers are all around us, whether they are sitting in the house next door, in the café across town, or in a room on the other side of the world. As a result, identity theft is always a threat, no matter where we are or who we are! Personal and financial information available online is always at risk of being stolen. In response, we need to maximize our protection to stay safe.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the internet safely:
- Protect your identity online
Be proactive! Take steps now to keep your online identity safe. Major social media platforms often have options to allow you to verify your account, and independent services like the Internet Identity Card can help protect your online identity across the internet.
- Use strong passwords
Use strong passwords that are impossible to guess or decode. The worst choice of passwords is something that people can easily associate with you, like your phone number, your middle or last name, or unimaginative (yet sadly popular) passwords like “password” or “123456.”
Change your passwords periodically and make sure you have different passwords for different accounts! It can be difficult to generate these hard-to-crack passwords and remember them. If so, sign up for a password manager to do it for you!
- Make sure data is encrypted
When you make financial transactions or give out important personal information, make sure that the website you are on is encrypted. When the ‘http’ of a website changes to ‘https’ or a lock appears at the side of the address bar, that indicates that the website is encrypted and you can have greater confidence that your information won’t be intercepted.
- Check your privacy settings
Social media companies like Facebook offer different levels of privacy settings, allowing you some degree of control over who sees the material you post on their platforms. Keep your accounts as private as you can, and share most of your information with only close friends and family.
- Don’t put important information in your social media profiles
Regardless of your privacy settings, nothing is perfect. Don’t put sensitive personal information (like your address or phone number) on social media!
- Disable cookies
Cookies are little “crumbs” of computer program that websites leave on your computer so they can remember you next time you visit. Your best move is to disable cookies in your browser settings whenever you are visiting a website that requires you to share your personal information.
- Use security suites
Protect your computer and phone with security software that provides protection against spyware, spam, malware and unwanted access to your information. But shop wisely and use reviews from established sources to make sure you get the right product for your needs.
- Monitor your credit score
Check your credit score regularly. If you live in the U.S., exercise your right to check 3 free credit reports from Experian, Transunion, and Equifax each, once a year. This well help you detect unusual financial activity before it can cause you any more harm.
A single mistake online can lead to a stolen identity nightmare that can cost you in time, money, and– with the accompanying stress–even your health. Use the internet to have fun, keep up with your friends and promote your business, but do it wisely. Your safety and the safety of your family is your highest priority.
© 2016 by The Noble Newspaper, established in 2016 by Ronald K. Noble