Every year, one in ten Americans are a victim of identity theft. Identity thieves use malicious software and other tricks to steal important data from their victims, but there are steps you can take to keep your data secure.
If you’re not sure how to protect your data online, don’t worry–it’s not as difficult as it may sound. There are many simple things you can do to keep your data safe.
Keep reading this online data protection guide to learn a few tactics you can use to protect your online data and keep yourself safe from identity theft.
Use Antivirus Software
One of the easiest things you can do to protect your data online is to install antivirus software. Viruses can wreck your computer and steal your personal information, so be proactive in combating them!
Antivirus software protects you from all kinds of cybersecurity threats: ransomware, Trojan horse viruses, and more.
There are many antivirus programs to choose from, available at all price points. Look for a thorough program that fits your budget and install it right away.
Strong, Unique Passwords
You probably have a lot of accounts that require a password: streaming accounts, bank accounts, social media accounts, and more. If your passwords are easy to crack, all of those accounts are at risk.
Make your password complex. Use a mixture of numbers, symbols, and letters that no one could figure out with a lucky guess.
Use different passwords for each account, too. If you use the same password everywhere, you risk all of your accounts being compromised at the same time.
Be Careful on Social Media
Sometimes, the best method of protecting your data online is to never put your information online, to begin with! People tend to overshare on social media; doing so can put you at risk.
Never give out personal info that other people could use to impersonate you. Be careful about posting pictures, too–many people have posted a photo without realizing that their address or credit card number is visible in it.
Try a VPN
VPN stands for virtual private network. VPNs are a great way to protect your data because, as the name implies, they improve your privacy online by encrypting your internet traffic.
VPNs are at the forefront of online data protection because they protect you from anyone else who may be on the same network. Many wi-fi networks lack protection; a VPN can provide some.
As an added benefit, VPNs hide your IP address and allow you to communicate more securely.
Be Wary of Free Wi-Fi
As we alluded to above, wi-fi networks often have serious issues with security. If you’re using your own secure wi-fi at home, you don’t have too much to worry about; public wi-fi is another story, though.
Many coffee shops, convenience stores, and restaurants offer their customers free wi-fi. It might seem harmless to take advantage, but you have no idea who else might be on the network.
Using a VPN goes a long way toward protecting your online data in these situations, but it’s better not to use the public wi-fi if you can avoid it.
Even the best passwords aren’t always enough to protect your data. That’s where multi-factor authentication comes in: it adds an extra layer of security by adding extra steps to your login process.
Many services offer two-factor identification. Usually, this means that after you’ve entered your password, you’ll also receive an email or text with a security code.
With two-factor authentication, even someone who knows your password can’t access your data because they don’t have access to your phone or email account.
Keep an Eye on Your Devices
Cybersecurity is often talked about in terms of software and online activity, but there’s a physical component to protecting your data, too. You need to keep your physical devices out of the hands of potential identity thieves.
Your phone is the device most likely to be stolen or compromised. Make sure you know where your phone is at all times; keep it in a purse or pocket when you’re in public. Don’t set it down on a table where you might forget it.
Clear Your Browser History
When was the last time you cleared your internet history? It might not seem important, but if someone gets access to your computer, they could see your internet searches, cookies, and more.
Clear your cache regularly, but don’t stop there; there are also benefits to more thorough data eradication. This article can give you more information about how data eradication works and why you should do it.
Beware of Common Scams
Internet scams are more prevalent than ever; if you want to protect your data online, you need to know how to identify and avoid some of the most common scams you might see.
You’ve almost certainly gotten a phishing email at some point. These claim to be from reputable companies like Apple, claiming that you have a charge or need to update some info.
In reality, these emails are from scam artists hoping to trick you into giving them your login credentials.
Fake surveys can also surreptitiously gather your personal information. There are even fake antivirus sites that compromise your computer while claiming to protect you.
Avoid Suspicious Links
If you do any amount of internet browsing, you need to be wary of malicious links. A bad link can take you to an unsafe website or download a harmful program onto your device.
Often, malicious links come disguised as email attachments or as part of phishing scams. If you’re not sure a link is safe, don’t take any chances–don’t click it!
Know How to Protect Your Data Online
Now that you know how to protect your data online, you can have a more secure online experience. As long as you follow the online data protection tips above, you should be able to avoid data breaches and other issues.
Data protection isn’t just an issue in your private life; you should apply these tips to your business, too. For more advice on how to improve your company, visit our business blog!