These days we are all connected in the virtual world. Our lives are intertwined with the internet through social media and applications. We share photos, write our thoughts, make purchases, find jobs, connect with old and new friends without thinking twice about identity theft.
Although it is impossible to forgo being online altogether, it’s important to know the little tips and trick to keep your personal information safe on the internet.
1 Beware of sharing TMI (Too Much Information)
Social media may seem like the right place to open up and share some of the more intimate details of your life, but that is exactly why you should be even more vigilant about the information you are sharing. It may be obvious to not share your identification card, passport numbers, phone numbers or PIN codes and bank account details.
But even seemingly innocuous information, like your birthday or address, can be used by criminals for more dangerous applications. If you still want to share information about yourself, make sure that your privacy is set to only show it to trusted individuals and not to the general public.
Check out the settings, configuration and privacy sections to see what options you have to limit who and what groups can see various aspects of your personal information.
2 Taking extra care when using your Credit Card online
We’ve all made purchases online but commonplace does not equate to safe. Be sure that the website you enter your credit card information into is trustworthy and secure. The URL should begin with “HTTPS”, not the usual “HTTP”.
Make your purchases at home or on your phone data network using your own devices. When I’m at a coffee shop or using unsecure network, I would browse and shop, save my purchases in your cart but only make payment when I’m using a secure network.
Even if you are not making any purchases, remember to logout of your customer account when using public devices. If you want to be extra careful, load a prepaid credit card with limited funds for online purchases.
3 Backup your files and information
I use cloud computing for backing up my data but you can do it the old school way of backing up to multiple external drives if you want. The point is to not lose everything if your actual device is ever stolen.
If you have cloud computing, there are many programs out there that can help you remotely delete your stolen device and then backup your files into your new device.
4 Factory Reset
We change our devices from time to time. Before you sell away or give away your old devices, do a full delete followed by a factory reset on it so that whoever gets your device next will not get access to your previously stored information.
5 Share only with Trusted Devices
Off your Bluetooth or WiFi capabilities of your computer or mobile devices when not in use so that random strangers will not be able to gain access to yours; including access to open file sharing networks. Your network sharing settings should always be set to only share files with other trusted devices you own.
6 Have a complex password
If you can, use a password generator every time you need a new password. I know that it may be too extreme for most people but at least don’t use obvious words, dates and numbers in your passwords. Make it difficult enough that even close friends and family would not be able to make a close enough guess. When they ask you for your answer to a security question like your mother’s maiden name or your pet’s name, don’t answer it accurately. I would usually give a fake imaginary name that I will remember.
7 Opt-in for multiple security authentication
Most large, trustworthy entities like the government, the bank, Google, Facebook, Paypal, etc would usually offer a 2-step authentication, which forces users to enter a code sent to their mobile device in order to sign in.
Some companies will send a message to your mobile phone number or a email address if someone attempts to log into your account from an unknown device. A message is sent to you requiring additional verification.
These methods offer extra security for your sensitive information and you should always opt in even if it seems troublesome. You will get warnings of suspicious activity, and the ability to change your information if it ever becomes compromised.
I hope that these tips will help keep you safe from all the lurkers that are looking for chances and loopholes to steal your identity and more from you.