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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection The Resource Center | article

7 Ways To Protect Your Online Identity

Help protect your identity by practicing safe habits online

Help protect your identity by practicing safe habits online

If you made any New Year’s resolutions at all this year, then learning how to protect yourself from identity theft should have been at the top of the list. The last year was a record one for large-scale data breaches and also smaller-scale identity theft scams. So how can you stay secure in the midst of all this cybercrime? Start by brushing up on the best ways to keep your information private online.

Here are some tips to keep your digital data safe:

  • Don’t hesitate to make contact: It’s important to be proactive when it comes to securing your identity, so follow through on any questions or concerns you might have about your cyber security. For instance, if you lose your wallet it’s best to call your bank right away so you can get your accounts closed, your passwords changed and new payment cards issued.
  • Don’t leave your devices alone in public: The easiest way for criminals to gain access to your personal information is by stealing a digital device like your laptop or mobile phone. These contain material that is invaluable to committing an identity theft, like saved passwords and usernames, bank account numbers, email addresses and private messages. Even if you are sure the area is safe and that your belongings will be left alone, there’s no real downside to taking your devices with you if you go to the restroom or step away for even a moment.
  • Encrypt your digital files: If you want to be extra secure, encrypting your files will keep unauthorized users from accessing your information. However, this requires you to remember your passwords accurately, or else you could lose your encrypted data for good.
  • Turn off remote connections when not in use: Don’t leave your remote connections, like Wi-Fi on the computer or Bluetooth on your mobile phone, on when you’re not actively using it. Cyber criminals can hack into devices through these connections and steal the information on your device. Hackers could also be scanning your network to find connected devices to attack.
  • Update your computer software: The Department of Homeland Security’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team recommends that everyone update their computer software whenever they are prompted to do so. Otherwise, hackers can more easily exploit known vulnerabilities in the software’s older versions, thus gaining access to your digital profiles.
  • Update your security settings: Take some time to go through all of your online accounts and update your security settings. Pay attention especially to your privacy settings on social media sites like Facebook. Security experts recommend using the most active settings possible, which keep most of your information from being seen by the public. Remember to disable any sites that you may have set to “remember” your login or payment card information.
  • Use your online banking: Yes, online banking has in some ways made us more vulnerable to cyber security threats. On the other hand, it allows you to keep a close eye on your bank account activity at all times. Be sure to check your statements frequently to make sure no foreign or irregular activity is appearing on your reports. If you notice anything strange, contact your bank immediately for assistance.

No one can prevent identity theft, but you can take simple steps to make your digital life more secure. Consider registering for identity theft protection services that can notify you to certain activities that may indicate fraud, so you can catch the crime quickly and take steps to correct it.