Securing Your Online Identity
Most of us spend a bulk of our time online on our mobile phones, computers, and other internet-connected devices. While we are at it, we sometimes tend to overshare information that might be an invitation to threat from cyber criminals.
It is important to learn how to protect our personal information like bank details and NRIC from identity thieves. This information, when stolen, could potentially result in dire consequences like money theft or even the use of your name to participate in illegal activities. So, here are 6 easy measures highlighted to help you secure your online identity.
1. Always use secure websites
An easy way to identify a secure website is by ensuring that its URL starts with ‘https’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’ and lessens the chances of you disclosing personal information to other unauthorised parties unknowingly. These websites are denied access to data on your browser unless authorised by the user—you.
If the URL begins with ‘http’, the website is not secure and any personal information shared might be stolen. Browsing such sites should be fine, but sharing personal information on it is definitely not advisable.
2. Use VPN when you need to connect to a public Wi-Fi
It is difficult to resist free Wi-Fi but there are many disadvantages of connecting to one. It gives cybercriminals direct access to your device, and valuable information like credit card and financial details when connected to the same network.
If you find yourself having to log into public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN) as it encrypts your activity. What this means is that it converts your actions on the internet into unique codes that only your computer can register. This prevents others on the same network from accessing your activity and hacking into your computer.
3. Use strong passwords consisting at least 15 characters
Be sure to create a strong password that is between 15 and 20 characters long, comprising both upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Here are some tips on boosting the strength of your password:
1. Create long but simple passwords that you can memorise so you won’t need to note them down physically
2. Refrain from using personal information like your NRIC or birthday as your password
3. Misspell any dictionary words
With technology so advanced now, software is available for hackers to crack passwords in unimaginable ways.
4. Beware of phishing emails and messages
This is a very popular way for cybercriminals to steal personal information. By opening dubious files and links sent in questionable emails and messages, you run the risk of submitting personal data.
The only way to stay resilient against such traps is never click on links or download files attached to unsolicited emails. You can minimize your risk of falling for these scams by:
1. Conducting background checks on the sender and the contents of its email. This will ensure that the websites you visit are legalized and safe.
2. Install a firewall to increase the security of your device.
3. Install a renowned anti-virus software and update it regularly.
5. Make purchases from reputable websites only
If you are unsure about the legitimacy of the website you’re about to make purchases from, check out its reviews and ratings. Check that the amount deducted from your bank account is correct immediately upon purchase.
Conduct timely checks to verify and ensure that there aren’t any suspicious transactions in your bank account’s transaction history. If you find anything odd or unsolicited, contact your bank immediately.
6. Lock all your devices with unique passwords
Let’s say you’ve lost your phone. If there isn’t any passcode, the person who found it can have immediate access to your phone and potentially steal all the information inside. It’s a terrifying thought, so keep yourself protected by setting a passcode on all your devices.
Secure Your Online Identity To Keep Identity Fraud At Bay
Applying these 6 steps regularly in your daily life will help secure your online identity in the long run. If you suspect that your information is stolen, alert the police immediately. Always stay vigilant and protect your valuable personal information against spyware and other online threats.
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