Empowered with the ability to compare prices, avoid the crowds, save time on travel and have access to a 24/7 global marketplace, it’s no surprise that people love shopping online. Needless to say, the world of e-commerce – or commercial transactions conducted electronically on the internet – is big business.
Despite popular belief, taking the time to protect personal information is not limited to online shopping. Social media, internet banking, emails and even your digital medical records are all fair game when it comes to the storage of personal information, and each provides a window of opportunity for scammers to access this highly sensitive data – but what can consumers do to protect personal information online?
Five Ways To Protect Personal Information Online
While personal information is often used by many businesses and government entities for legitimate reasons such as communication, this is not always the case. This type of data can also be misused by criminals, or even inappropriately by unscrupulous digital marketing professionals.
In simple terms, personal information may include any or all of the following –
- Your full name
- Your address
- Your phone number
- Your date of birth
- Your email address
- Your usernames and passwords
- Your bank details
Cybercriminals can easily piece together your identity from information that is publicly available about you, and can use this data to commit a wide range of crimes that can include identity theft, stalking and even harassment. In order to protect personal information online, the good news is that there are a few straightforward ways to keep this data to yourself.
Social Media Privacy – If you use social media, adjust your privacy settings to control the amount and type of information you share and make your profiles private so that only your friends can view your details. In addition, dig into the settings of your account to see what types of tracking you’ve enabled and where your personal information is distributed.
Strong Passwords – One of the most effective ways to protect personal information online is to be smart with your passwords. Aim for long tail phrases that include numbers and special characters, and avoid anything like addresses or nicknames that would be considered relatively easy to guess as a third party.
WiFi Connections – An unsecured network most often refers to a free Wi-Fi (wireless) network, like the types available at airports or large shopping centres. It means there’s no special login or screening process to get on the network, so don’t access personal bank accounts, or sensitive personal data on unsecured public networks to avoid any potential hacking events.
Two Factor Authentication – Two-factor authentication means you need to pass another layer of authentication in addition to a username and password to get into your accounts. If the data or personal information in an account is sensitive or valuable, and the account offers two-factor authentication, you should enable it. This usually includes generating a text or email.
Check Your Credit Report – It’s often difficult to detect if you’ve been a victim of identity theft until it’s too late. Along with keeping a close eye on your bank statements, take precautions to regularly check your credit report to see if there’s any potentially hazardous defaults or listings that you don’t recognize. It’s important to nip this in the bud to keep your credit score in tact.
Making your devices, online identity, and activities more secure really doesn’t take much effort. In fact, taking the time to protect personal information online is very much considered to be the easy route when compared to fixing any potential damage inflicted by cybercriminals, so don’t wait until it’s too late to opt for a proactive approach.
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