With one data breach after another you must know your personal information is being targeted, right now, by people who want to steal your identity. Fortunately, it’s much simpler than people often think to keep their information safe. Here are 8 cyber security tips that you can implement today, to increase the odds of keeping your personal information private.
Check Out What’s Happening with Your Accounts
Almost any account out there allows you to check out recent activity for that account. Google, Twitter, and Facebook all have this option. When you access this recent activity, you should see a list of logins and authorizations. If something looks strange, such as an indication that someone with a foreign IP address has accessed your account, your account may be compromised. Most sites will allow you to immediately log out of all other locations. Once you’ve done, immediately change your password and enable two-factor authentication, if you haven’t already.
Check Out What’s Happening with Your Computer
You probably don’t realize it, but at any given time, there are several programs running in the background on your computer. Most of these programs are harmless – however, some of them might be malicious. So, it’s always a good idea to occasionally check to see what’s running. To do this, use Task Manager in Windows or Activity Monitor for Mac. If you don’t recognize a program, search for it on Google. That should tell you what it is and whether or not it’s something that you need to be concerned about.
Take a Close Look at Your Passwords
The easiest, and most basic cyber security tip? Use strong passwords. Are you using different passwords for each account? Using the same passwords for multiple accounts is dangerous – it’s just a matter of time before your accounts become compromised. Do you change your passwords often enough? You should change your passwords at least once a year, and immediately any time a website has experienced any sort of data breach. Check out Have I Been Pwned? to see if your email address is associated with any recent data breaches or leaks. If you have trouble remembering all of your unique passwords, start using a password manager.
Examine Your Wi-Fi Connection
How often do you check your Wi-Fi connection? Is it password protected? Are you using WPA encryption? Is anyone piggybacking on your Wi-Fi? You can check by looking into your routers settings or install Wireless Network Watcher. You should be especially aware when you are on public Wi-Fi. Anytime you use public Wi-Fi, you should only connect through a virtual private network software (VPN) for the safest browsing experience.
Look at Any Connected Apps
You have probably given your social media account and in some cases your Google account permission to connect to other apps. Though these aren’t totally dangerous, they can and sometimes do result in data leaks or account takeovers. If you don’t use a connected app/service, you should remove the connection.
Look at Your Installed Apps
While looking at connected apps, you should also look at installed apps on both your mobile devices and computers. You might have downloaded a malicious program that was disguised as a game or other tool, which could wreak havoc on your system and expose sensitive data. Every so often search out the name of various apps to see if there are any flaws or vulnerabilities.
Make sure you are updating your operating system and apps regularly. These updates often have security improvements to keep your device safe. The newer the update, the safer your system is. Don’t forget to update things like browsers, modem/router software, and even printer software, as the cyber criminals can manipulate those, too.
Protect Your Identity
Implementing these cyber security tips is a good first step in helping to protect your identity. However there’s a bit more to consider. There’s really only two ways to protect your identity from someone intent on opening new lines of credit under your name. You’ve heard lots about the credit freeze offered through the credit bureaus. And you should set it up through all 3 bureaus. But that’s not enough.
When a person’s identity is stolen there is generally a lot of chaos that follows. Most people don’t have the administrative skills to deal with the fallout. This is where identity theft protection comes in. Not only does it proactively watch your data and monitor credit reports, but there’s also a team of agents there to help fix it if things do go wrong. That’s one less thing for you to worry about.