Remember when personal safety meant locking your doors at night and buckling your seatbelt? Today, you also need to consider keeping your personal information safe online. Hackers, identity thieves, and other cyber criminals can use the information you have online to do serious damage to your personal and financial well-being. So it’s more important than ever before to make sure you’re staying safe online.
Always consider the consequences before you post anything online. Posting too much information about yourself on social media makes the job of an identity thief that much easier. Information as innocent as your favorite music group, sports team, or even the name of your pet can be used to access your accounts through “challenge questions” that you set up. And, it probably goes without saying, but never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or account numbers where they’re accessible to the public.
Protect Your Network
You might think your personal Wi-Fi is safe, but hackers have no shame in inviting themselves into your home to snoop around your network. The first thing you should do when setting up your Wi-Fi is change the generic username and password your router came with. And, just as you lock your doors and windows when you leave home, disconnecting your Wi-Fi when you’re not using it serves as similar protection for your network. Encrypting your wireless router is also a good way to prevent access to unwanted intruders.
Safeguard Your Credit Cards
Online shopping is great and it’s here to stay. But every time you enter your credit card online, you run the risk of it being stolen. When making a purchase online, make sure the website is secure. Every time you visit a new site, take a quick look at the address bar at the top of the page. The difference between “HTTP” and “HTTPS” is all about security. Avoid entering your credit card information on unsecured HTTP sites. And be careful about linking your phone or personal computer to a public network if you’re going to be sending personal information.
Double Up on Authentication
Most of your online accounts have an option to set up two-factor authentication, which means that you enter your normal login information and an additional one-time use code. Sure, it takes a little extra time, but double the authentication also means double the account security. It’s the same process you go through when you make a purchase with your debit or credit card. You first swipe your card, but you also input a second level of authentication when you type in your pin number.
In today’s online world, keeping your information safe is more important than ever. But with these simple tips, and a little common sense along the way, you can keep your personal information from becoming someone else’s information too.