How to Protect Your Identity Online
Whether you're an avid internet user, or you aren't the most tech-savvy, there are numerous security risks that you need to be aware of when browsing the web. Cyberthreats and attacks can have devastating consequences, especially if you run an online business, so it's vital that you take precautionary measures to keep your personal information and data protected.
As cyber threats are becoming increasingly common, the U.S federal government has implemented a research and development team specifically designed to formulate plans to create policies and develop technologies that reduce the potential risks in the cyberspace sector. Whether you use the internet for business or pleasure, here are a few tips on how to keep your online identity and personal information protected.
Use Strong Passwords
If you regularly use the internet, chances are you will have numerous accounts for your social media, banking, and work. Passwords for these accounts need to be hard to crack, otherwise you will be putting yourself at risk of a cyber-attack. If possible, use an encrypted password which will add an extra layer of protection. A strong password will not only keep you safe but give you peace of mind that your details won't be compromised. Make sure that you use a combination of symbols, capital letters and lowercase characters for your password, and avoid using easy to find information like your date of birth.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
While you may have strong usernames and passwords, they aren't always 100% secure. Should they be compromised, hackers can easily gain access to your accounts and cause devastating effects. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you enable two-factor authentication, which will ensure that another form of identity is needed to access your account. Social media platforms like Facebook have these measures in place to protect their users, so enabling two-factor authentication will make it harder for cybercriminals to operate. The last thing you want is to deal with identity theft, so knowing how to actively protect your identity is crucial. Hackers are clever individuals who have even gained access to over 1 billion Yahoo accounts in the past, so it's vital that you use two-factor authentication to protect your data.
No matter what software you use on the internet, they will likely already have built-in security functionality which helps to catch and stop cyber-attacks before they occur. To make sure that you have the best and most recent security across all technologies, it's important that you regularly update your phone and computer operating system software, web browsers, mobile apps, and anti-virus programs.
Verify Email Validity
Whether you use your email address to keep up to date with your favorite brands or use it for business purposes, there are malicious emails that you will come across from time to time. These kinds of emails can look credible and legit, meaning you may click on it and regret it later down the line. Should you click on the email and follow any links, hackers can gain access to your account. It's important that you verify whether the email is legitimate before going any further, so checking to see whether you recognize the email address, or if there are spelling errors in the email address will keep you safe and protected.
Look for HTTPS Security
When browsing the web, the pages you click on should be secure and trusted. HTTPS indicates that the page is reliable and will keep your data safe, so if you're on a website that isn't secured with HTTPS, make sure that you don't enter sensitive information. HTTPS will be housed in the URL itself and have a small green lock that should say 'secure' next to it.
Be Cautious of Public Wi-Fi
If you're in a public environment like a café or restaurant, the Wi-Fi you use will not qualify as a secure network. This means that hackers have a greater advantage of obtaining and stealing information and infecting your network with malware. If you must use a public Wi-Fi network, it's important that you stick to websites that do not deal with sensitive information. In simple terms, don't enter your online banking details on public Wi-Fi.
If you use the internet on a day to day basis, you will likely already be aware of what cookies are. These are details that the website stores on your computer or tablet, including information about what web pages you visit and what activity you do there. While most websites keep these details to themselves, this can be a way for dishonest individuals to obtain your information. While you should have cookies enabled, make sure that you only limit them to webpages that require it.
While there are many benefits that you can receive from being active on the internet, you should always be on your guard when it comes to cyberthreats. The last thing you want is for your personal information to be put in the wrong hands, so following the guidelines above can help keep your identity online protected.