Our digital identities can touch many aspects of our lives as we conduct day-to-day activities online. From Education to shopping, work, and everything in between, it seems that every real-world activity has a counterpart in the virtual world.
The pandemic-induced changes will undoubtedly continue to fuel and accelerate the digital transformation, making it even more difficult for users to monitor and protect the bits and pieces of personal information scattered across the digital realm.
In this sense, users need to play an active role in protecting their digital identities. Here are seven accessible steps to help you safeguard your data and avoid falling victim to cybercrime and fraud.
Strong passwords are your best friend
A strong password is the first line of defense against unwanted access to your online account. Suppose a malicious actor manages to log in into your account. He could impersonate you, lock you out of your account, and cause significant financial harm to you, your family and friends.
Likely, you have already reused the same password on several websites and platforms. Start by reviewing all of your online accounts and set up new and unique passphrases, remembering never to use personal information such as date of birth or your child’s or pets’ names when creating them.
I know it may be hard to remember all these unique passwords, but there are also solutions that help you store them safely on your device.
Two-factor is better than no factor
Let’s say you’ve just signed up on a new platform. You’ve set up a strong, unique password and are ready to enter your credit card information to pay for a subscription. If you think your password is enough to protect all of your information, you’re wrong. Data leaks and breaches test users’ privacy and safety each day. To ensure that private and sensitive info does not fall into cybercrooks’ hands, you need to tighten the security on both your account and device.
Take advantage of two-factor (2FA) or multi-factor (MFA) authentication options many web services and platforms already provide. It only takes a minute or two to set up, and it can save you from a big headache if your account and password are exposed.
Layer up on security
Online shopping direct messages on social media, spam, and even regular browsing can compromise device and data. Privacy-conscious users should consider using a security solution on all smart devices and PCs to protect against malware attacks, phishing and fraudulent websites. You can also add an extra layer of security by using a VPN each time you connect to public WiFi networks, bank or shop. A VPN protects your privacy by routing internet traffic through an encrypted connection to a remote server, making it harder to track you online or for a spy to eavesdrop and intercept the traffic.
Reading the fine print
Remember that time you needed an app or wanted to benefit from an offer you saw on some online platform? Did you take your time to check what permissions you are granting that app or service before using it? If your answer is no, consider making a habit out of checking the fine print of every app you use or service you sign up for online. App developers and online platforms can harvest a lot of personal information, track your online activities and access your contact lists. While it may not seem so important at first, this data can be exploited and used against you by any malicious actors who breach the service.
Avoid public WiFis
Public WiFi can pose a threat to the security of your devices and the information stored on them. Users who use public WiFi hotspots in airports, hotels, cafes and restaurants should exercise caution and always use a VPN. Never conduct financial transactions while connected to public WiFi, as malicious actors could monitor the entire traffic and keystrokes.
Adopt a zero-trust approach on social media
Scammers are highly creative and social media offers them a perfect medium to lure victims and steal users’ data or scam them. Be particularly skeptical of individuals who contact you via DMs on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook, and don’t click on links or attachments. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Just because your friends or acquaintances love posting personal information, photos and check-ins, it doesn’t mean that you should too. Less is more. Oversharing on social media platforms can be disastrous. If you’re thinking about strengthening the privacy of your Facebook account, here are some useful steps.
Say no to phishing attempts
Fraudsters have been stealing internet users’ money and data since the dawn of the internet. It’s one of the most common ways people lose money and sensitive info, or fall victim to identity theft.
Criminals may pose as reputable financial institutions to trick you into providing your PIN codes and other critical personal data, such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers.
Bitdefender Total Security gives your Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android devices complete protection against malicious threats, anti-phishing and anti-fraud filters plus a secure VPN for a fast, anonymous and safe experience while surfing the web. It helps you secure your passwords, private data and financial information, and offers instant alerts whenever an incident is detected and prevented.
With Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection you can take control and minimize your digital footprint by continuously monitoring for data breaches and social media impersonators that could ruin your reputation. Digital footprint monitoring uses only your e-mail address and phone number. The dedicated tool helps find your private information online, in legal and illegal collections of data. Stay on top of new breaches and privacy threats with instant alert and monitoring to make more privacy-focused choices while browsing the web.