Being connected to the world through the internet is fantastic, but each time you connect, you are putting your privacy at risk. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to protect your privacy today, tomorrow, and well into the future.
Here are a few privacy tips to help ensure your personal information is secure:
- Keep Up with the Latest Data Breaches. Has your Personally Identifiable Information (PII), email or password been exposed in a data breach? You can check your status online at HaveIBeenPwned.com. If there are any results, change your passwords, immediately.
- Automatically Update Software and Devices. Update settings to enable automatic updates on your electronics. As inconvenient as they can be, software updates are usually done to patch critical security vulnerabilities.
- Safeguard Your Family’s Online Data Footprint. Protect your family from scammers as your household’s online activity increases due to more working, shopping, and studying from home.
- Password Protect All Devices. Any phone, tablet, or computer should be protected with a password. Don’t use common passwords or PINs like 1111 or 1234. Also, don’t use anything too personal, such as your birthdate or pet’s name. Passwords should be difficult to guess, and the best are even difficult for you to remember. If you can’t remember them, use a password manager.
- Shred Outdated Documents With PII. You don’t have to shred all paper documents, but you should shred any documents with your Social Security number, birthday, account number, insurance number, or credit card number. I shred anything that anyone can use to scam me or anyone else over the phone or via email.
- Update Account Passwords to Protect Against Credential Stuffing. Nowadays, hackers can decipher hashed passwords, further exposing a breach victim to account takeover and credential stuffing attacks.
- Protect Your Kids’ Privacy. Kids are more than 51 percent more likely than adults to be targeted for identity theft. If your child starts getting strange mail, like credit card offers, there is a huge problem. Lock down their credit, now. Identity theft protection and a credit freeze are viable options for kids.
- Keep Your Computer Safe. When using your computer, whether it is at home or on the go, make sure you restrict file sharing, use a firewall and antivirus software, back up your data, and encrypt your files.
- Be Careful Oversharing on Social Media. It’s easy to go overboard when sharing on social media, but you should refrain from this, as the bad guys are watching. Don’t share private information, such as your full birthdate, or other personal information about yourself.
In addition to the above tips, it’s also a good idea to invest in comprehensive identity theft protection. The unfortunate reality is that you can do all the above to protect your privacy and still end up a victim of fraud. The good news is identity theft protection requires no effort or administration and works behind the scenes, watching your back 24/7.
*Originally posted April 6, 2017. Updated February 12, 2021.*