The internet has made everything more convenient and connected people in ways never possible before; unfortunately, it has also made identity theft a lot easier. As October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, here’s how to keep your identity safe in the digital age.
Never reuse your email password
Your email is the nexus of your virtual information. A hacker who has gotten his hands on your email password will be able to gain access to just about all of your personal data, ranging from account information for services activated through that email to your date of birth, banking information and even passport details. It is always better to use a unique password for each new website you sign up with, suggests Forbes, but if you had to pick just one to be unique, it should be your email password. Alternatively, you can securely manage all of your passwords at LastPass.com.
Think twice before sharing information on social media
Years ago, criminals might have scoured dumpsters to find personal documents with which to commit identity theft. Today’s cleaner digital equivalent is to dig for people’s personal details shared on social media. You might be surprised how much information can be gleaned from the background of a picture or how many people can still view a Facebook post claimed to be visible only among friends. As a general rule, before you make a post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, think whether you would be comfortable sharing the same information at the corner of a city block. If not, it shouldn’t be posted on social media either.
Don’t click on unexpected links
The golden rule of keeping your identity safe in the digital age (and keeping your computer free of malware and viruses) is never to click on unexpected links, according to The Guardian. One of the most popular ways for identity thieves to infect computers and steal data is to get users to click on a link or open an attachment, often via an official-looking email that encourages them to take action about an urgent problem. These kinds of emails should never be trusted and one should always avoid clicking on the links or attachments contained within. The attempted attack may be obvious at times and nearly impossible to distinguish from a genuine email at others; as a result, it’s best to always be suspicious of any unexpected links.
Be careful when using public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks often do not encrypt information, making them vulnerable to malicious attacks. However, that doesn’t mean you should always avoid using Wi-Fi hotspots even when you need them; rather, limit the data you share while connected to the hotspot to information you don’t mind having in public. For instance, visiting YouTube and Wikipedia should be safe; online banking and connecting to a social media account (thus entering your password over the public network) is not.
You don’t have to stop using the internet altogether to keep your identity safe in the digital age. For most users, simply taking care to follow the four tips above is enough.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.