Privacy seems to have become something for the privileged few these days. The less we have of it, the more we realize how much we miss being anonymous. The days when no airport officials could demand access to your information; when adverts were designed for the masses and not our personal browsing history; when we kept the same lame password for every account without giving it much thought at all.
The biggest dangers online were scammers from abroad who’d lure you into giving away your personal details – today, the scammers have turned into hackers who simply help themselves.
The good news in all of this is that technology is always trying to be one step ahead, making it easier for us to protect our details and restoring our sense of trust again, one safety feature at a time. Use this easy guide for some basic security hacks and stay confident online.
Social Media: Don’t share
To keep browsing fun and informative rather than exposing ourselves to identity theft, we need to think about the information we share with each other. Social media used to be a place where you and your high school friends could chat undisturbed and write silly things on each other’s walls – now it’s a handy tool for your potential employer to check you out as a person.
Although we all miss the good old days, it’s no going back to the way it used to be with social media, and the best thing you can do is to adapt to the changes.
Have a look at your profile, for starters, and remove any personal details you share. This includes your phone number, date of birth, and email address. Every fragment of you that’s spread online can easily be picked up by fraudsters and puzzled together, forming a complete profile of you that they can use and exploit.
Password Protection: Everywhere
Some of us find it particularly easy to trust others and prefer to see the good in people before assuming the worst. This is a good thing, though, but when it comes to your cyber security, you should password protect every single device you have – from your laptop to your phone and tablet. Sure, you keep most of these devices at home and wouldn’t expect your household to steal your identity any time soon.
It’s little you can do if any of these are stolen, however, and the lucky thief can simply turn the devices on and have access to every single detail you’ve good-humouredly plotted in; every single picture and email will be in their hands. Do the right thing and lock your hardware down if you’d like to keep your details safe.
Password Security Questions: Lie
Another easy way to make it difficult for thieves to access your information is to avoid the truth the best you can. Whenever you need to set up a secure question to your passwords, don’t give them your mother’s actual maiden name or the real name of the street you grew up on. Lie as much as you can to keep your details safe, and the fraudsters who’s been trying to gather information about you will find it a lot harder to gain access.
This is a golden example of how they could use your social media profile to learn as much as they can about you, before trying their luck with your secure question. Eliminate the first danger by having a closed profile with little personal details, and give the password security questions anything but the truth. Just remember the fake name you plotted in, though, and store it somewhere safe if you have to write it down.
Security Software: Use it
Most people have some sort of security software on their computers but pay little attention to what it does and how it works. Many of the versions that come with the device for free are often unable to protect you as well as it should – especially when it comes to the virus protection inside web browsers. It’s important that the security software you choose is able to keep you safe and informed when you connect to a wifi network when you’re on the go.
If you’re looking for the best protection, have a look at some antivirus software reviews for a simple and straightforward guide. Make sure you set your preferences to update these often so that your device can stay secure at all times.
Whenever someone asks for your personal details, both with regards to your social security number as well as your personal and financial details, stay alert. This is particularly relevant if they’re the one who contacted you and not the other way around.
Ask yourself why they would need your information and withhold it if you’re in doubt. Even if the caller is legit, he or she will usually be able to complete their job without this kind of details immediately – which gives you time to research the one who called and even send an email to the company to confirm their legitimacy.
Questions such as why they need the details, how they’re going to use it, how it will be stored, and what will happen if you don’t share it, can help you on the way to make the right decision. Usually, the worst thing that can happen if you choose not to share and they happen to be legitimate is that you’re making their job a bit harder.
It’s not the worst thing, after all, and way better than a nightmarish experience of having your social security number stolen and misused.
The more you’re willing to password protect every device, alter your browser settings for safe surfing, and stay clever when it comes to sharing your personal details, the safer you can feel about enjoying the great online. Hackers and fraudsters will develop new ways of trying to trick you into sharing – but with these easy tricks, you’re able to stay one step ahead of them.