Protecting your digital identity doesn’t take a degree in computer science.
Follow these 5 easy steps to secure your personal information so no one can steal your identity without working really, really hard for it.
Keep your operating system updated
You can set most operating systems to update themselves automatically. That’s a smart move that will help you keep viruses off of your computer.
Operating systems are in a constant fight to protect themselves from hackers. Hackers keep making new viruses, and companies keep making patches to prevent those viruses from infiltrating your system. Update your OS or the hackers will get the best of your defenses.
Use a virtual private network
A virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure tunnel between your computer and your server. That makes it nearly impossible for someone to eavesdrop on the information you send to the server.
Without the kind of VPN that you get from companies like boxpn.com, even novice hackers could capture your personal information, including bank account and credit card numbers. If someone gets those numbers, then they can steal your identity within a matter of minutes.
Use social media wisely
Hackers have found that they can take advantage of social media platforms to gather information about people. It’s smart to find ways to protect yourself.
First, don’t publish private information about yourself. That includes pictures of where you live, which could include images of your address that makes it easier for criminals to steal your digital identity.
Second, pay close attention to what links you follow. Some of those links will take you to pages that try to corrupt your computer with viruses. Only follow links that you trust to avoid “clickjacks” and viruses.
Don't open suspicious emails
Most viruses are spread through email attachments. Pay close attention to emails before opening them. If you find something suspicious about the email, delete it immiedately.
What counts as suspicious? Perhaps you:
- don’t recognize the sender
- feel that the subject line is something that the sender wouldn’t write
- see that the email includes a link to a questionable website
It’s especially important that you not open attachments or follow links. They can install keylogging viruses that will record your personal information. From there, it’s only a matter of time before the hacker uses your identity for nefarious purposes.
Use secure passwords
Make it as hard as possible for other people to “hack” your passwords. The best passwords consist of random numbers, letters, and special symbols. You should never use a word from the dictionary (hackers have programs that enter every word in the dictionary to see if one will open your private account). It’s also important to choose a different password for every account. Otherwise, a criminal will have access to numerous accounts after figuring out one password.
Don’t make it so easy for someone to steal your private information!
Have you ever fallen prey to an identity thief? What do you do differently now to keep yourself safe?
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Image via Flickr by Microsoft Sweden