How to Protect Personal Information on the Internet
It’s safe to say we live in a world where everything happens online. From our banking transactions to shopping, and even learning. The internet has taken center stage as the universal beacon of communication in the world today. While the benefits we derive from the digital age cannot be overemphasized, there are several security concerns. By spending so much time and performing so many activities in the cloud space, we’re constantly at risk of security breaches from hackers and cybercriminals. Depending on the degree of sensitivity of our personal information, such breaches could be extremely damaging. The internet has made it possible to live your entire life online, but that life could be taken away if someone manages to get past your security.
Some of the personal information that need the most protection
Of course, in every online platform or service provider, there are security measures put in place to protect your personal information. For instance, one can only imagine the level of security required for online casinos like the Trueblue Casino to protect the personal information of their gamblers. Entities like banks and social media platforms do the same for their customers. However, they can’t protect you from yourself. If you happen to be careless or negligent with your passwords and login info, there is little these companies can do to protect your privacy.
· Health records;
· Biometric data;
· Browser history;
· Credit card information;
· Intellectual property;
· Confidential work documents;
You Have to Be Ready for Everything
The list is endless. While most companies are doing their bit to protect your information on the internet, you have to be proactive too. Below are the practices you can employ to further increase your security and protect your information against hacks and other threats.
Avoid Logging in Your Personal Information While Using Free WiFi
Free WiFi may be a tempting offer, but it has its risks. To many, free WiFi is an opportunity to stream or download their favorite content, but to hackers, it’s a chance to eavesdrop on your activities and steal personal information. While logging into harmless sites shouldn’t pose any problems, logging into your bank account on the other hand is a huge NO. You should only log in when you’re using a secure connection. Also, when connecting to public WiFi, try to use a VPN.
Never Click on Unknown or Suspicious Links
The number one plague that has seen a rapid rise in recent years as a result of increased internet usage is cybercrime. One of the most common tactics of cybercriminals is to send links to your inbox while posing as your bank, credit card company, or prospective client. They aim to trick you into clicking the link. This act is popularly known as phishing. Clicking the link gives them access to your information and with that, they can withdraw money from your accounts and leave you penniless in minutes. You should always be cautious when you get messages from unknown numbers. Even email addresses that seem suspicious should be questioned. When in doubt, call the organization to verify if they truly reached out to you.
Always Set Up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Setting up a two-factor authentication protects you from scammers trying to hijack your email and social media accounts. While most platforms have it available to protect their users from unnecessary hacks, it’s up to you to activate it. This two-factor authentication acts as a firewall and asks for another means of authentication after logging in with your usual password. 2FA makes it extremely difficult for anyone trying to hijack your accounts. It usually involves a unique code that’ll be sent to your registered mail or phone number which ideally, only you should have access to. The 2FA might take more time and effort than a basic login, but it will protect your privacy.
Create Strong Passwords
There are two different kinds of people where passwords are concerned. Those who always remember their passwords and the others who forget them easily. People who belong to the latter tend to create simple passwords so they can easily remember. While this might be a solution to their password problem, it’s a disaster to their security measures. Typically, a good password should at least be 10 characters long. It should have lowercases, uppercases, numbers, and symbols. Anything less leaves you susceptible to hacks.
You also shouldn’t use the same password for all of your accounts because if one of your accounts is breached, then all of them would be compromised. Try to tweak them a little – not so much that you’ll forget, but also not too easy for anyone who has breached one of your accounts to guess. However, if it’s hard to remember all of your passwords. Using a secure password manager like Google is your best bet. They tend to remember all of your passwords on your secure device and will give you easy access to your accounts.
Always Backup Your Data
Backing up your data should be a no-brainer in this day and age, but for some unknown reason, people tend to overlook it. Regardless of how important your data is, roaming around without backup is a dangerous move. Your device can get lost or stolen; leaving you with no option but to start all over again. A backup creates a duplicate file of everything on your device and stores it for you. You can backup data on your cloud or drive.
Update Your Operating System
Just like science, technology, and all the positive aspects of this world are improving, malware, virus, hackers are also improving. You can’t just update your OS and expect it to protect you from all external threats forever. These threats are getting more advanced and if you don’t take measures, they could overpower your security system. Thankfully, updating your OS equips you with the latest version of security patches that you need to ward off new external threats. It doesn’t matter which device you’re using, you must regularly update your OS to truly feel secure. These updates usually occur monthly or longer but you should set your OS to auto-update.
Properly Delete Your Files
Clicking the delete button doesn’t mean your files are permanently gone. If you’re using a computer or a laptop, deleting an item will only transfer the file from its folder to the recycle bin. This loophole can prove to be costly especially if you’re dealing with a savvy hacker who knows what they’re doing. To completely delete data and ensure it’s gone forever you have to either overwrite it or delete it again from the recycle bin. Always remember to empty your recycle bin regularly.
Activate Find My Phone and Wipe Your Device
Should your device fall into the wrong hands you can wipe your phone clean before any of your personal information is stolen. You can either use “Find my phone” or other tracking applications to know the location of your phone. These applications also allow you to remotely wipe sensitive information away from your phone.
Password Your Phones and Other Devices
It’s common sense to password your phones and tablets to secure your privacy and personal information. But according to Pew Research Center, 28% of smartphone owners are carefree about their phones and go on with it without a password. One can only imagine the vulnerability of such individuals if their phones wind up in the wrong hands. Even those who manage to recover their devices may have already lost a lot more in terms of information. This is why securing your phones and tablets with passwords is your first line of defense. Your phone should have a lock screen to keep thieves and even people you know from prying into your personal life.
Use Antivirus for Your Mobile Devices
When most people hear the word “antivirus,” they attribute it to desktops and laptops. A lot of people tend to overlook the fact that their mobile devices also need protection from malware and other external threats. Although the free version of your mobile antivirus might only involve basic functions such as malware scanning and detection, it’s better than having no protection at all. To unlock more protection features on your antivirus, you’ll have to subscribe.
Deactivate All Unused Accounts
Opening an online account is easy, but remembering to delete it is the difficult part for most people. Some users open accounts and stick to them while others choose to open multiple accounts for different purposes. When you have too many accounts, there’s every chance that you’ll forget passwords and abandon a few. For example, it’s rare for someone to use the same social media account from high school up until the end of college and the start of a professional career. The consequences of forgotten accounts can be a lot worse than they appear. They could be hacked, and all of your photos and messages could end up in the wrong hands.
This is one of the reasons notable online platforms such as the Trueblue Casino frown upon the opening of multiple accounts by one user. The act promotes fraud and makes it difficult for the perpetrators to be caught. Always remember to go back and delete all of the accounts you no longer need to keep your history safe.
Don’t Install Suspicious Apps
You might already know this but it’s safer to not install applications from unknown sources. There are numerous applications created by hackers to act as malware that share your personal information in the background. Asides from the fact that too many apps slow down your phone, you can’t always tell what happens in the background without your knowledge. Your location could also be exposed via your GPS.
Format Phones Properly Before Donating
Giving out a phone without resetting to factory settings is like handing over your personal information to whoever ends up with your phone. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling or donating it, you should always format your phones before giving it to anyone else. This will ensure your personal information is safe and cannot be used by people with malicious intent.
Activate Email Alerts with Your Bank
Most banks you’ll find today offer this service and you must activate it to keep track of every transaction involving your card. If at all your card or account ever gets hacked, your bank would be the first to alert you on any transaction going on without your knowledge. You’d also be able to cancel your credit cards easily with this method.
Be Wary of Sharing Too Much Information on Social Media
Social media not only offers a way to connect with people of different cultures but also a way for you to share your past and present experiences with your followers. And while you might be fond of this, you have to be careful not to share too much-privileged information about yourself. Especially scattered info that if put together, can give hackers a crack at guessing your password. Pieces of information like your children’s names, your middle name, and even your address should not be shared without thinking. Anything that would put you at risk should not be shared.
No doubt, the Internet has brought us a faster and sustainable way to learn, connect, and live comfortably at the helm of digitalization. However, it has also brought with it insecurity, cybercrime, fraud, and other illegal internet activities. Putting the pros and cons side-by-side shows that the good outweighs the bad and for that reason, the internet cannot go away. It’s up to you to protect your privacy and information from falling into the wrong hands. By adhering to all of the tips above, you should have no problem protecting your personal information on the internet.