Five Ways to Protect Your Identity Online

Five Ways to Protect Your Identity Online

As more of the world does business online, it has become necessary and convenient to use the internet for many services like banking, shopping, and socializing. You can do all these things without sacrificing your safety if you are smart while you are online. Here are five ways to protect your identity while going digital.

1. Use the Right Passwords

A strong password is the first step to staying safe online. Here are some pointers for creating a strong password.

  • Make sure your password is at least 10 characters long.
  • Use upper and lower case letters.
  • Use numbers and symbols.
  • Never use personal information like your birthday, social security number, middle name, or the names of your kids.
  • Be creative. Smash words together or substitute numbers for letters, but make sure you can still remember your password.
  • Do NOT use the same password for everything. If you have trouble keeping track of them, consider using a safe, credible password keeper.
  • Don’t be lazy. You’d be surprised at how many people use passwords that are super easy to type in like “123456” or “qwerty.” You also know better than to use something painfully obvious like “password.” A little bit of effort will pay off when it keeps you secure online

2. Be Smart about Security Questions

 Security questions are often used to verify your identity when you forget a password, or as an extra layer of security. This means the answers to your security questions deserve your attention, just like your password. How hard would it be for someone on Facebook to find out your mother’s maiden name, where you went to elementary school, or the make and model of your first car? Odds are—you’ve already advertised that information for anyone who bothers to look for it. Choose secure questions AND answers, or create a special password to use just for answering security questions.

 3.Separate Your Email Addresses

Create separate email addresses for different purposes. The email address you use for banking should be separate from the one connected to your Twitter account. This helps you keep information organized and prevents problems if one account is hacked.

4. Use Credible Websites

Look For:

  • When you are visiting a site that asks for any information make sure it says https:\/\/ not just http:\/\/. That little s at the end is a sign the website is secure.
  • Look for the padlock symbol next to the URL
  • Use a site that offers multi factor authentication (sometimes called two step verification). Have the website send a text message with a code to your phone whenever you log in, especially from a new computer. Google and Dropbox offer two step verification. Social media, banking websites also often offer this service. This way, even if you forget to log out of your computer at work, someone would have to have your phone to log in to any of your accounts.

Avoid:

  • Sites that let you download media illegally are riddled with viruses.
  • Sites with explicit content, or tons of advertisements are often not secure and should be avoided. If you encounter one accidentally, make sure not to click on anything.

5. Use Social Media Carefully 

Social media is a wonderful tool for communicating and networking when used correctly. Here are a few pointers for using social media.

  • Exclude personal information like your birthday, phone number, and home address.
  • Pay attention to privacy settings and stay up to date when they change.
  • Don’t overshare vacation plans or check in online every time you leave the house. This makes it easy for burglars to know when your home is unprotected.
  • Remember if you post it online it will be there forever.
  • Remember, your boss and your grandma are on the internet.

Avoiding social media out of fear doesn’t just mean you are missing out on fun; employers are wary of applicants without Facebook accounts. However, potential employers also look at what you post online, and there have been instances of current employees being fired for their online behavior after hours. Be smart about what you put on social networking sites. It is essential to protecting your employment opportunities, your identity, and your personal safety. Identity thieves use information gleaned from social media, but so do regular “old fashioned” burglars.

Use these suggestions to protect your identity online and continue using the internet as the great resource it is.

Copyright 2017 The IMT Group