Think about the amount of information that we share online. Between social networking sites like Facebook (News - Alert) prompting us all of the time for updated personal data, and the simplicity of online shopping with the push of a button, there is more out there than ever before for hackers and identity thieves. In fact, according to Instant Checkmate, 39% of social networking users have had an online profile hacked.
The Internet is a looming place, and the issue of safety should always be on our minds. It’s hard out there for everyone; even the big name companies like Adobe (News - Alert) and Apple have dealt with security issues. No one is immune to them. The following tips are just a sampling of ways in which you can protect your personal information online this year.
Passwords: You hear it all the time, but you should be taking this information to heart: Change your passwords frequently. Make sure they are different from one another, so that if someone gets into a bank account, they can’t also get into your email and find more accounts they can then access. Do not create passwords based on an obvious piece of information about yourself (like your birthdate, phone number, etc.), and take advantage of third level security options when offered.
Purchase Protection: Consider your options in terms of what kinds of firewall/malware protection is right for you to purchase. There are constantly new products being tested and released as we learn more details about the different methods hackers are using to obtain your information.
The Cloud: Dropbox, Google (News - Alert) Drive, and Apple’s cloud-based services offer the option of a password-protected “safe” that can be accessed almost anywhere. So, if someone hacks into or steals your computer, your information is still safe, and you can remove it and save it elsewhere if necessary.
More About Passwords: Again, this is basic technology 101, but it’s worth repeating: Remember not to keep your passwords saved on public machines, and always keep your electronic devices password-protected.
Someone Knows: Check out sites like haveibeenpwned.com, which let you know if your information has been compromised online. This way, you will know what you need to do in the future to protect yourself against these kinds of attacks.
Become Invisible: If you can, don’t save your information to sites. Instead, remain hidden, and use the incognito window option on your browser. You can search and enter your information in when you need to, but it won’t be saved, and won’t be accessible in your browser history.
Cover Your Tracks: If you’re not using an incognito window, don’t forget to delete your cookies as often as you can. If a hacker can see what sites you’ve been on, and your passwords have been saved on them, you’re essentially inviting them to steal your identity.
Destroy the Evidence: We’ve taken to the World Wide Web in order to prevent our physical documents from being stolen, but sometimes having a hard copy is necessary. Don’t forget about document shredding and electronics recycling.
These are just a few of the ways in which we can be safer with our personal information. Let’s make 2014 the year that identity theft statistics finally go down.