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

Keeping Your Computer or Laptop Secure Against ID Theft

It's more important than ever to be aware of how to protect your identity on the technology you use on a day-to-day basis.

It’s more important than ever to be aware of how to protect your identity on the technology you use on a day-to-day basis.

Most of us can recall a time when people considered computers a luxury, instead of a necessity. At that time it was unlikely that we would be spending most hours of our day on a computer or storing sensitive information on it. Today, computers and laptops are the keepers of our digital lives. We rely on them not only for entertainment, but to work and complete other necessary tasks. We store large amounts of important documents on them, from tax records to health data. And we also access the internet through our computers, often leaving websites open and activating automatic logins.

It’s no wonder that identity thieves consider laptops and computers the Koh-i-Noor of fraud. It’s more important than ever to be aware of how to protect your identity on the technology you use every day. This includes keeping your computer and laptop secure, and using safe online practices. Here are a few tips:

  • Be aware of public threats: A lot of us use our laptops outside of the home, whether during the commute to and from the office or at a coffee shop. It’s important to make sure you take measures to secure your laptop while you are in public. Never leave it unattended, use a laptop bag that zips closed to avoid someone reaching into your bag and leave your computer at home if you believe you will be traveling somewhere it might be stolen.
  • Manage your system and browser: Hackers look for weak spots in operating systems and browsers, so make sure you are protecting your computer and the information on it by keeping your security settings high. Update your OS and browser regularly. Windows operating systems will often update automatically, and most browsers will regularly prompt you to install a new version. Make sure you keep up with these changes as they often add security to protect against the latest known threats. Make sure to also use anti-virus and anti-spyware software at all times, and allow these programs to scan your computer every now and then to make sure all possible viruses and spyware are being found and deleted.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi: This goes hand-in​-hand with the previous piece of advice. You might be keeping your laptop safe physically, but if someone can easily access your information by hacking it’s not very safe at all. Public internet connections do not have adequate security and are a favorite target for identity thieves. If you need to use public Wi-Fi don’t access sensitive information and avoid inputting personal data unless you are using a “HTTPS” website. The “HTTPS” in the URL signals that the connection is secure and your data will be encrypted. Some websites also use a little lock icon in the address bar to signify the same protection.

A proactive approach to identity theft protection is the best way to make sure your devices and information are always safe. Never sit back and wait for identity theft to occur before you take steps to secure your personal data.

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