These days, our digital identity is an important part of our real identity. Besides friends and contacts, our digital profiles provide useful information to employers, law enforcement, etc. Protecting the information available about us online is important because this information can be used for malicious purposes by scammers and hackers.
Your information can be used for a variety of purposes. In a 2018 survey, 21% of participants said that their email was used to send spam, 17% said their credit card data was stolen and misused, and 9% said that their data had been used to create a fake account. Considering these stats, it’s a good idea to create a plan to protect your digital identity. Fortunately, doing so doesn’t need a lot of time. Here are eight ways to protect yourself from identity theft in a few minutes a day:
Come up with a plan
The first step is to find what needs protection. Find, what information is available about you? What is the vulnerability level of your devices? Have you been attacked in the past?
Besides Googling yourself using a parenthesis (“your name”), another way is to use a service that collects data about individuals. A public data search engine like Nuwber lists links to contact details, public records, and other information about individuals. A website like Have I Been Pwned will tell you if your email account has been affected by a data breach.
Scan with an antivirus software
Install antivirus software to identify and remove viruses from your devices. Setting up the software to running a scan requires a few minutes. Good antivirus software has an updated library of threats. Enable updates so your system is protected from the new threats as well.
Use a VPN service
Virtual private networks, or VPNs, can encrypt your data and hide your location information. This protection is especially useful if you regularly use a public internet network. VPNs can route your information through networks in various countries. They typically choose a network that is best suited according to your location but you can also manually choose another location. You can also install an extension for your browser. Giving this extra layer of protection requires a simple press of the button when you browse.
Avoid Touch ID
Some options are convenient but can also compromise your safety. Touch ID allows you to swiftly unlock your device, but, being a physical unlock, it’s maybe easier to replicate compared to a password that’s not visible or available to anyone.
Keep strong passwords
A strong password is like a good lock. If you take the time to create a strong password, you’ll be maximizing the safety of your account. A good starting point for a strong password is to make them long and use variations on numbers, punctuation, spelling, and capitalization. Avoid using consecutive numbers or digits on the keyboard and common names and places.
Another important thing to remember with passwords is to avoid using the same password for all your accounts. After all, you wouldn’t want to have the same key for all your locks. If you’re worried about someone accessing your passwords written on a document inside your computer or on paper, omit easy-to-remember parts to make them incomplete.
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Use 2-factor authentication
As the name suggests, two-factor authentication requires you to verify yourself twice, usually by involving two different devices. For example, to login to your account, the website will send a code to your phone after you enter your password. And, entering this code into the web page will give you access to your account. This additional step will only take up a few seconds but may provide you with an additional layer of security.
Learn about phishing scams
Phishing scams involve accessing someone’s personal information, including financial information, by concealing your true identity and showing yourself as a trusted authority. These scams usually happen through email or text. Take the time to learn about these scams can help you with them when it’s your inbox that is the target. Here are some tips by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about recognizing and avoiding phishing scams.