With the growing use of social media platforms, more personal information is being shared online. And making data protection more challenging. Luckily, there are numerous ways to safeguard your online identity and personal details. Here are effective strategies to secure your info.
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#1. Use strong passwords
You often hear about the importance of strong and unique passwords for good reason. They provide one of the best defenses against hackers. It is crucial not to reuse passwords or slightly modify them across different platforms and services. Regularly updating passwords (at least every 60 days) is also essential.
While it may seem like a lot of work, a password manager can help you keep track of it all. Additionally, take advantage of two-factor authentication if available. It adds an extra layer of security that makes hacking more difficult for criminals.
#2. Secure your accounts
In the past decade, there have been numerous incidents of data breaches and password leaks affecting companies like Equifax, Facebook, Home Depot, Marriott, Target, and Yahoo, among others. It’s highly likely that hackers have leaked data from at least one of your online accounts. Would you like to check if your accounts have been compromised? Simply search your email address on “Have I Been Pwned?” to cross-reference it with hundreds of data breaches.
Here’s what you can do to protect your privacy and security today
Use a password manager. LastPass and 1Password are top recommendations from Wirecutter. These password managers can generate complex passwords, monitor accounts for security breaches, suggest changing weak passwords, and sync your passwords between your computer and phone.
Setting up a password manager may seem daunting, but once it’s installed, you can browse the internet as usual. As you log in to accounts, the password manager saves your passwords and suggests changing weak or duplicate ones. Over a few weeks, you’ll have new passwords for most of your accounts.
Take this opportunity to also change the default passwords for any devices in your home, such as your home router, smart light bulbs, or security cameras, as using common passwords like “password” or “1234” leaves you vulnerable.
Additionally, it’s important to enable two-step authentication whenever possible for your online accounts. Most banks and major social networks provide this option. Two-factor authentication requires two steps: entering your password and entering a unique code that only you can access.
For example, when logging in to Facebook, step one is entering your username and password. In step two, Facebook sends a temporary code to you via text message or through an app like Google Authenticator, and you enter that code to log in.
#3. Install VPN
VPN is important for several reasons. Firstly, if you download VPN for a PC, you can encrypt all the data that you transfer to and from any server. Secondly, VPN for PC allows you to hide your real IP address. This means that companies will not be able to follow you.
As long as you have a reliable VPN, your digital data will be securely protected. For example, try to download VeePN, which is known for advanced cyber security measures. VeePN has 256-bit encryption, a free trial version, kill switch technology, etc.
#4. Limit what information you share
Social media is a popular target for hackers to collect personal information because people often share more than they should. By revealing details like your birthday, the name of your first school, your mother’s maiden name, or even the make of your first car, they can answer common security questions and gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
To enhance your privacy, adjust the settings to only allow friends and family to view your posts. Remember, the best defense is to avoid sharing potentially sensitive information altogether. Additionally, be cautious of “quizzes” that appear on your social media feeds as these may be employed by hackers to gather snippets of information that can jeopardize your identity.
#5. Shred it
Despite the increasing shift to paperless billing, it’s important to remain cautious about identity theft through “dumpster diving.” Medical bills, tax documents, and checks may still find their way to your mailbox, requiring proper disposal.
Firstly, consider investing in a paper shredder. Once you’ve completed online check deposits or bill payments, shred them to secure personal and account information (while recycling responsibly). You should also consider hiring a professional in paper shredding, such as Corodata, and ensure that all papers are correctly disposed of.
Secondly, if you’re going out of town, arrange for a trusted friend to collect your mail or request a temporary hold from the post office. This precaution will prevent thieves from stealing sensitive information from your mailbox while you’re away.
#6. Check your credit
Even if you don’t believe there’s an issue, it’s a good idea to check your credit. The fact is, someone, might be using your name to make unauthorized charges without your knowledge. Different credit reporting agencies keep track of people’s credit depending on where they live. In the U.S., the major ones are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Additionally, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in the U.S., these agencies are required to provide a free credit check at least once every 12 months. Canada, the UK, and other countries also offer ways to obtain a free credit report. Explore your options – you may be surprised by what you discover.
It is not reasonable to constantly hope that hackers will not pay attention to you. The more dense Internet technologies enter our life, the more attacks on our personal space on the network become inevitable. These precautions and protections will help minimize the risks without giving up the benefits of the Internet.