In the age of Instagram fame and online battles for who has the largest number of followers or likes, your digital identity is far more valuable than you would think. It’s not only about being popular online but it’s also about ensuring that you are safe offline as well. There are very many reasons why you need to find practical ways to protect your online identity. Consider these statistics for example and as a cautionary tale:
In 2017, more than a million children were victims of identity theft in the U.S. That ended up costing numerous families over $540 million in expenses.
These numbers prove that identity theft can happen to anyone and when it does, it can be very costly. So how do you protect your digital identity and keep yourself safe online? Here are some tips on how to keep yourself safe from identity theft.
Use a Unique Password for Everything
Almost everyone is guilty of using the same password for numerous accounts online. This often occurs because we have a tendency to forget passwords. The problem with using the same password on numerous platforms is that you leave yourself widely exposed to hackers. What you should know is that your primary email is very much the gateway to your entire online life. If a hacker gains access to that email, they can go around changing the passwords to almost every other platform that is attached to that email which means they can gain access to your financial profiles.
One of the best ways to keep this from happening is to use a password manager. These are systems that help you store highly complicated passwords on a secure platform. They can also help generate these passwords when needed. Now you don’t have to worry about remembering all your passwords, the password manager will do it for you. This way you can use different, more complicated passwords for everything.
Two-Factor Authentication is Your Friend
Two-factor authentication is quite literally the first line of defence when it comes to identity theft. What this means is that every time you want to perform an action online, you need to verify that you are who you say you are through two different channels. It could be a combination of a password and a fingerprint or a PIN code and a passphrase.
For the most part, today more and more platforms, especially those that have anything to do with your finances will ask you to feed in a secret one-time code sent to your phone or email after you have put in your password and asked to execute a specific transaction. This makes it very difficult for hackers to gain entry to your systems because the chances of their hacking both factors of identification are very low.
Be Wary of the Personal Data You Share
Most people do their shopping online today and as a consequence, are easier targets for identity thieves. One way to ensure that you don’t fall, victim, is to sparingly share your data online. Digital platforms are not as secure as they would have you believe and whenever you do something like allow an online shop to store your credit card details, you are essentially exposing that data to greater risk.
Pay Close Attention to Encryption
If we are being honest, the world is not about to stop shopping online no matter the degree of risk. So it is up to you to ensure that you are doing everything you can to keep that data safe. There are two things that you should always look out for before you feed your credit card details into any website:
The green security lock that comes before the URL which signifies that the website is encrypted.
The additional “S” at the end of the HTTP which signifies that the platform has SSL security.
These two symbols show you that the information you share with the site owner is encrypted and won’t be intercepted by third parties. That, however, doesn’t protect you from the site owner themselves. The only protection against that is to use trusted sites that have been around and have a good reputation.
Think Twice before you Click that Link
Phishing scams are often quite simple. Someone sends you a link that is supposed to help you achieve something like give you a free coupon, money or some kind of advantage. The idea is to play on human greed and desire to have more. As soon as you click that link, a bug is implanted into your computer that can either study the keys you log so as to steal your passwords or the link will ask you to share sensitive data that can be used to steal your identity. As a rule of thumb, don’t ever click on links from unknown sources. It’s that simple.
Keeping yourself safe online will take a great amount of vigilance but once these practices become a part of your day to day routine, your digital identity will be much safer.