In 2019, 14.4 million people fell victim to identity fraud. This had an overall cost of $1.7 billion!
What’s worse is, fraudsters used to pull off this crime by sifting through physical papers, but nowadays, they’re turning to stealing online information to weasel their ways into accounts. This means that we’re all more susceptible to identity theft, especially those of us who are not so good with cybersecurity.
But this doesn’t mean there’s no hope. There are many easy ways to protect personal data so it’s much harder for hackers to get ahold of your credentials and other important details.
You have a right to privacy. Read on to find out how you can protect yourself online!
Keep Your Software Updated
Most likely, you already have an antivirus program on your computer. Make sure you keep this program updated since the patches fix vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit.
You’ll also want to do the same with all the programs on your devices since those vulnerabilities can also be exploited by hackers.
It can be annoying to constantly update your software. But doing so can make it significantly harder for hackers.
Password Protect Your Devices
You should already be doing this, so if you’re not, put passwords on all your devices ASAP. And we don’t just mean laptops and computers; you should also put passwords on your other devices, such as tablets and smartphones.
It might be a lot more convenient to get onto your devices by not having passwords on them. But by taking this extra step, the slight inconvenience is completely worth it should your phone or laptop get lost or stolen. When your devices are in someone else’s hand, your password protection will keep them from instantly accessing all your device’s data.
Enable Multifactor Authentication
Simply having passwords on your accounts isn’t enough. While it can initially block people from gaining access, with enough tries, they just might be able to get in.
To safeguard against this happen, you’ll want to enable multifactor authentication wherever you can. In most cases, you’ll have 2-factor authentication available, which requires to you get an SMS, email, or even use a physical authentication key.
Whichever type of authentication you choose, it’ll block cybercriminals from accessing your accounts because it requires something only you can see or get.
Refrain From Using Public WiFi Networks
While you’re out and about, you might need to check your email for updates on work. Or maybe you’re bored at a cafe so you want to look at some funny YouTube videos.
The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t use public WiFi networks that aren’t password protected. If you can easily hop on, imagine how many other people can too!
When you use unsecured WiFi, hackers can easily get on and grab any data that you transmit. And yes, this includes your bank account credentials!
So if you have to use the internet while you’re out, make sure you only use ones that are secure and password-protected. Otherwise, just wait until you get home to take care of whatever it is you need to do. This small inconvenience is worth it since it ultimately protects your data.
If you can’t wait and you must get online, try not to log onto anything that might give away your sensitive information.
Practice Good Email Habits
Today’s email providers are pretty good about filtering out spam and harmful emails through the use of AI. But from time to time, there might be some that slip through the cracks.
Because of this, it’s good to be vigilant and scrutinize every email you get, even if it seems to be from someone you know. A large number of hackers practice something called phishing, which is where they pretend to be someone you know or an institution you’re familiar with (such as your bank or Netflix).
You’ll want to double-check the sender lines, such as the name and the email address. You’ll also want to take a look at the body text. Emails sent from cybercriminals will often have spelling and grammar errors.
If there are links and/or attachments, don’t click on them right away!
For links, you can hover over them to see where they lead. Pay close attention to see if they’re weird URLs.
As for attachments, get in touch with the person who sent them to ensure that it’s legitimate. Otherwise, if you download it (especially without proper antivirus software in place), you might get a nasty virus on your device that needs to be removed by professionals.
Be Conscious of the Information You Put Online
Many people aren’t really aware of this, but the things you put online are quite public and practically the whole world can access them. What’s worse is, what’s online stays online.
We highly recommend putting your social media accounts on private so only those within your social circle can see your details and what you post. The less information there is about you on the internet, the better.
Hackers are able to do careful research on you and craft convincing emails (such as those used for phishing) to fool you. They can also use your personal details to better guess your passwords (for example, the name of your dog or your birthday).
Protect Personal Data to Avoid Falling Victim to Cybercrimes
If you take the right steps to protect personal data, you’ll put a huge wall up between you and hackers. Being smart about your private data will mean less trouble and fewer worries about having to sort out everything having to do with identity theft.
So take the time to be smart about internet browsing and teach your loved ones to do the same. Before you know it, smart internet habits will be second nature!
If you ever have issues with your computer or have questions about it, feel free to get in touch with us. Our expert team is more than happy to help!