How to Protect Your Personal Info Online?

Imagine waking up one morning, and after checking your social accounts, you discover that a story or an image has been posted from your account. Only, you know you were not the one who posted it, as you were asleep at the time. What is the feeling that suddenly overwhelms you? In case you’ve never had this happen to you, or you’re struggling to imagine it, we will reveal that the feeling is quite unsettling. You can’t help but panic since this unique way of violating your private life can be a sign of something more serious. After all, you’ll wonder who has your account login credentials. It could be that you’ve been hacked and that your other virtual accounts are compromised as well. The logical thought process is to wonder what happens next in your digital life. Is the money in your bank accounts safe? And how are you going to restore your identity? Stick around to find out how to protect your personal information online, where to store it, and how to react in case something similar happens to you.

Many things can go wrong that would potentially jeopardize your personal information online. You could have misplaced your phone, your driver’s license could get lost or stolen, or you could have weak or easy to guess passwords. All of this can become a problem if someone with bad intentions acquires the information that is on these profiles or devices. Mobile devices are very useful but can be dangerous when in the wrong hands. Victims of identity theft are common today, so the best way to keep our personal information safe is to go through the questions below.

How to Protect Your Private Information Online?

Before going into the details of how you can protect your personal information online, we would like to point out some general truths about information security. Personal information that’s stored on your computer or being used online is sort of like personal hygiene. Why? You absolutely should practice it every day, even if you don’t feel like doing it. It can sound a little far fetched at first, but we are here to convince you that you will feel much safer, and your online life and computing devices will be healthier after you’ve applied these tactics. 

Adopting a new habit is hard, but adopting these habits will make you safe, along with your bank account, social media profiles, and ultimately, your identity. That being said, it’s not complicated or hard to understand, and you’ve already taken the first step. Taking an interest in learning about security means that you are on a path to staying safe online. You can’t protect your data unless you are fully aware of what’s there to protect. Threats online come from different vectors, and this blog and Consumer Affinity’s Community platform, Split® will teach you how to protect your online security and maintain your privacy. 

How to Protect Your Online Identity and Privacy? 

One of the more up-and-coming cybercrimes is identity theft. The large number of data breaches and amount of personal information available to cybercriminals is one cause of this problem. You can’t stop data breaches, but you can take steps to protect yourself. In the event your identity does get stolen, being proactive about your defense can help you reduce the hassle and grief you might experience because of identity theft. In the sea of people who use the Internet on a daily basis, there will be some who let down their guard. That means that hackers and cybercriminals will find them and exploit the fact that they can easily take advantage of them. While it’s true that you aren’t ultimately responsible for financial charges if your identity is stolen and misused, you will have to figure out what is fraud, report it, and track it to resolution. Sometimes this means involving multiple financial institutions, credit card companies, merchants, and law enforcement. In some cases, identity theft causes people to lose jobs, negatively impacts relationships, and has other measurable consequences. 

How to Protect Your Online Accounts With Strong And Unique Passwords?

One of the ways to fight account compromise is to make sure you choose strong passwords for the accounts you’re using. Accounts that hold your sensitive information, such as your email and bank accounts, will likely ask you to create passwords that contain a combination of capital letters, numbers, and a certain number of special characters. Most people reuse a small number of short, easy to guess passwords (usually the same ones) over and over because they memorize them. It’s hard to remember 50+ unique and difficult to guess passwords. One of the first ways to protect yourself online is to use a password manager. Password managers allow you to use unique, long, and random complex passwords. The more random your passwords are, the more difficult it is for a hacker to guess and obtain access to your accounts. Be sure to check out this post on Split®

Even better, where possible, use a multi-factor authentication (MFA) hardware key like a Yubico YubiKey 5. This pairs what you know (a password) with what you have (a hardware key). The YubiKey supports commonly used applications like Facebook/Instagram, Google, Microsoft, Reddit, YouTube, and common password managers. If you lose the key, there are still ways to access your accounts, like sending a one-time password to your email on record or a smartphone. 

How to Protect Your Online Identity From CyberCriminals?

Another way to make sure that no harm comes your way is to check privacy settings on all of your social media settings pages. There are a lot of details you can manipulate there, but the most important one is to limit who can see your personal information (birthday, address, school, phone number, email address, etc). You don’t want anyone to assemble this information to steal your identity. This could lead to your other online accounts being hacked, and it could spark online threats or even attacks on your personal finances. You also need to be aware of common scams, phishing, and other attempts to scam you out of information or money. NBC got it right when they started their “The More You Know” public service announcement campaign in 1989.    

How to Protect Your Finances and Deflect Breaches Into Your Bank Account?

Bank and credit card account details can be stolen in so many ways, but even if the most usual way is data breaches, the next most common is online shopping. This is why you need to be most careful with online shopping, and use only verified sites to handle these purchases. Inform yourself by reading through reviews, and set up an extra step before going into a virtual checkout so that you know who you’re entrusting with your sensitive information. Always check your bank, credit accounts, and credit history on a regular basis. Consumer Affinity’s Credit Monitoring solution, Split® help.   

For additional security, set up fraud alerts on your debit cards and credit cards so that you will be informed of any suspicious purchases. Carefully inspect your credit reports, credit history, and account transaction details on a regular basis, just to be sure that you’re the only one using your financial information. Ask your financial institutions about their ways of dealing with potential identity theft. If you don’t think you’ll be using credit, freeze it! 

How to Practice Safe Social Networking?

A lot of what is considered Internet security has been endangered by a very serious practice on social media platforms. Most people don’t realize that what’s on their social media profile can expose so much information. People who overshare on social media are at a large risk of falling victim to identity thieves. If there were a mantra to best describe identity theft protection, it would be ‘practice keeping your personal things – personal.’ While two-factor identification might help protect against direct breaches into your account, putting your information online voluntarily is basically like giving the bad guys a key to your home. When possible, try to resist announcing that you’re going on vacation, have recently made large purchases, or posting pictures of where you live or what you drive without obscuring your license plate or address. There is plenty of public information available online without our consent (birth certificates, marriage, divorce, real estate, and court records) – why add to it?

Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to protect your personal information online, from downloading antivirus software to installing firewalls, using password managers, and carefully using public Wifi. All of that can be in vain if you didn’t know about various digital details that need protecting. Whether it’s social media accounts, your content, your bank details, or something else, you should be equally concerned with securing all of them. The rest of your data, your cloud storage, and even desktop computers can be compromised if you don’t keep up your guard.

Don’t miss out on the next post in this series, “What can someone do if they steal your identity”?

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