Here we can see, “How to Protect Your Identity Online”
Identity theft appeared new and unfathomable when Sandra Bullock featured in The Net in 1995. But times have changed. Every year, over 17 million Americans have been victims of identity fraud since 2017.
Identity Theft Is Serious
Identity theft can take many forms, including a hacker stealing your credentials to get access to your accounts or assuming your financial identity, or someone hundreds of miles away using your credit card and taking out loans in your name.
If you’re still awake, the Federal Trade Commission details identity theft scenarios in which a crook obtains a credit card in your name sends the bill to a different location, and (of course) never pays.
If he is jailed, he may use your personal information to steal your tax refund or pose as you.
Identity theft can be difficult to recover from, both legally and financially. And the consequences for your credit history can be long-term. This is one of those situations where an ounce of prevention is worth a metric tonne of cure.
How Your Identity Can Be Stolen
Your identity, unfortunately, is low-hanging fruit that may be picked in a variety of ways. Offline, thieves steal mail from mailboxes or rummage through trash, both of which could contain credit offers and personal financial information (which is why you should own a shredder).
Skimmers attached to petrol pumps, as well as restaurant workers, can record your credit card information. A cashier was recently caught for taking 1,300 credit cards that he had memorized.
It’s even riskier online, but people are becoming more aware of the most heinous hacks. Although unsecured retail websites (those that begin with “http” rather than “https”) are becoming less common, it’s still something to be aware of.
This necessitates ever-more subtle phishing attempts to dupe consumers into handing over their personal information via phoney emails that appear to be legitimate. And there’s always a fresh con waiting to be discovered.
“Online dating apps are another prevalent scam,” said Whitney Joy Smith, president of The Smith Investigation Agency. “Scammers seek out weak people with whom they may form a bond. After that, they either demand money or obtain sufficient personal information to commit identity theft.”
There are also simple hacks, such as when databases containing personal information are breached.
How You Can Protect Yourself
“Real privacy is practically impossible to acquire unless you’re willing to take exceptional precautions, such as leaving all technology and going to the Amazon to live with an uncontacted tribe,” said Fabian Wosar, chief technology officer at Emsisoft.
However, Wosar noted that people could take reasonable and practical safeguards.
Many of them are standard cybersecurity precautions that you’ve heard about for years. However, to be genuinely safe, you must perform these things daily. After all, identity theft is usually a convenience and opportunity crime. Therefore you want to make yourself the lowest target possible.
While it is true that the more measures you take, the better, the reality is that not everyone will be extremely cautious. With that in mind, we’ve divided the safeguards you should take into three categories: common sense (what everyone should do), heightened security (for the more knowledgeable), and bunker mindset.
Common Sense Precautions
You might as well stop locking your front door and leave your unlocked automobile idling in your driveway if you’re not performing these things:
- Use strong passwords: A strong password is a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, digits, and special characters, according to popular knowledge. The truth is that the longer your password is, the more difficult it is to crack it. XKCD did an excellent job at deconstructing it.
- For each site and service, use a different password: Although it should go without saying, people who reuse passwords are common. The difficulty is that if your credentials are compromised on one site, hackers may easily retry them on thousands of other sites. According to Verizon, hacked, weak, or reused passwords are responsible for 81 per cent of data breaches.
- Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords: A programme like Dashlane or LastPass is a must-have in the game of online security. The average internet user has over 200 digital accounts that require passwords, according to Dashlane. Within the next five years, the business anticipates that number to quadruple to 400. Without a tool, managing that many strong, unique passwords are nearly difficult.
- Be wary of free public Wi-Fi networks: Only join a free public Wi-Fi network if you’re certain it’s safe. You may join a network that is solely dedicated to traffic monitoring. If you’re using a public or shared computer (for example, to print a boarding pass while on vacation), be sure the browser doesn’t remember your credentials by clearing the cache.
You don’t have to run faster than the bear; you have to outrun your buddy, as the expression goes. You’ll be way ahead of the majority of the online population if you follow these security best practices:
- Never check in to other websites using your social media profile: When you join up for something new, you may be given the option of using your Facebook or Google account as a “single sign-on.” While this is convenient, a single data breach puts you at risk in a variety of ways. And, according to Pankaj Srivastava, chief operations officer of the private firm FigLeaf, “you risk providing the site access to the personal information contained in your sign-on account.” Signing up with an email address is usually preferable.
- Enable two-factor authentication: This effectively prevents criminal actors from gaining access to your accounts through a password reset. If you require two factors, they must have access to both your email account and your phone. You can also do better than this (see the bunker advice below).
- Minimize your social media footprint: The world of social media is becoming increasingly harmful. Accepting connections or friend requests from somebody you don’t know is also a bad idea. Bad actors can use you as a jumping-off point to attack your contacts, or they might use you to study a phishing operation.
- Reduce the amount of information you share on social media: “The more information you share about yourself, the more information a hacker can discover about you,” said Otavio Friere, chief technology officer at SafeGuard Cyber. “And the better you can be targeted, the better.” Your Facebook page may contain enough information (email address, school, birthplace, relationship status, occupation, interests, political affiliation, and so on) for a criminal to phone your bank, impersonate you, and persuade a customer service representative to reset your password. “As well as avoiding putting your entire name and date of birth on your profile, consider how all your information interacts,” said Simon Fogg, a data privacy specialist at Termly. Your phone number could be used to locate your home address even if you don’t reveal it. You might be astonished how much of your daily life you’re revealing to strangers and how susceptible you’ve made yourself to threats when combined with geotagged images.”
Into the Bunker
There’s no end to the security precautions you can take—we didn’t even get into utilizing a TOR browser or ensuring that your registrar keeps your website’s WHOIS information (if you have one) confidential.
However, if you’ve previously followed the advice in the preceding sections, the following precautions should put you in the top 1% of internet users:
- For two-factor authentication, never use your phone number: “Phones can be cloned,” said Steve Good, an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) specialist. As a result, the second factor in two-factor authentication is less secure than it appears. Thankfully, configuring Google Authenticator or Authy to handle all of your two-factor authentication needs is simple.
- Protect your USB flash drives by encrypting them: How do you move files from one machine to another? Of course, we’re talking about flash drives. These gadgets are frequently the weak link in your security system. Anyone can pick it up and read it if you lose it. Individual data can be encrypted, but encrypting the entire device is a superior option. Kingston has a DT2000 drive family with capacities ranging from 8 to 64 GB. They contain built-in numeric keypads and use hardware-based, full-disk AES, 256-bit data encryption to protect your data—no software is necessary.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): This network allows you to connect to the internet secretly (at least to some extent). It’s especially useful while connecting to public Wi-Fi, but it could also be beneficial at home. “A VPN hides your IP address and location,” Srivastava explained.
- “So, it appears that you’re browsing from a different location.” Others will think you’re browsing from Sydney, Australia, or wherever you’ve chosen to connect from virtually.” You could be surfing from a local café in Boston, but others will think you’re browsing from Sydney, Australia, or wherever you’ve decided to connect from virtually.” However, it would help if you opted for a VPN that does not keep logs because they might be used to identify you and your online activities.
- “Reviewing your internet presence regularly will help you uncover how much of your personal information is available,” Fogg added. It’s simple to set up Google alerts for yourself, which might help you figure out the internet’s information on you.
I hope you found this information helpful. Please fill out the form below if you have any queries or comments.
- How can you safeguard your identity the most effectively?
- Maintain the security of your mail.
- Examine your bank statements.
- Examine your credit scores.
- Personal documents should be kept at home.
- Unknown phone calls and emails should be avoided.
- Create passwords and logins that are difficult to guess.
- For online buying, only use one credit card.
- Is it possible for someone to steal your identity merely by knowing your name?
How your name and address might be used to steal your identity. Identity thieves can use a phoney identity to open new credit accounts, steal from current accounts, or commit other crimes, depending on what they find. An identity thief may attempt to utilize your name and address in a variety of ways.
- Can someone use my SSN in conjunction with their name?
A dishonest person can use your Social Security number to obtain other personal information about you. Identity thieves can apply for more credit in your name using your phone number and good credit. Then, when they use credit cards and fail to pay their expenses, your credit is harmed.
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- What steps can I do to protect myself from identity theft?