Living in the twenty first century, our personal information is transmitted on a daily occurrence. From logging in to a website, or swiping a credit card at the local store, it becomes disturbing to consider how many viable options someone has to intercept important information and potentially cause a disaster for another. The first step in protecting yourself is through awareness and knowing how to secure your private information. Here are several ways you can protect yourself.
Monitor your credit report
By United States law, each person is entitled to a free report each year from three separate bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The most secure method of requesting a report is through the federally authorized site annualcreditreport.com. Since these do not interfere with another, it is recommended that you use all three- one for every four months of the year. Scan the reports for any odd or irregular activities that could potentially indicate that you may have had your identity compromised.
Destroy your paper trail
It is truly astounding to think of the amount of personal information that is generated from our daily activities. Even though it may be incomplete, even grocery receipts have credit card information listed below the transactions. It is highly suggested that any physical document carrying discreet information should be either securely stored or shredded. SafeBee includes bills, voided checks, bank statements, pay stubs, resumes, expired passports, and related documents- essentially anything that has personal info included on it.
Be wary of scammers
This means more than clicking links on random emails (which, by the way, do not do). Scammers are always coming up with innovative ways of stealing your personal information to abuse at their leisure. When logging in to a site or app that includes sensitive material such as SS numbers or banking information, always verify that you are using the legitimate source. Mock websites are used to imitate another site, which can save your login credentials for them to use or change. It is recommended that you use a well-accepted search engine to find the site you need, never click a link that can potentially route you to a mock site.
Stay up to date
Always make sure you are protected with up to date with security features for your computer, phone, and any other devices with internet connectivity. Check your firewalls and anti-virus for updates and patches, and utilize disc cleanup technologies. An outdated security feature is more likely to be broken into than a newly released version. It’s always a good idea to have a backup, preferably secured with AES encryption.
Although this is mentioned in our other articles, we cannot stress it enough. Always create a password that is easy enough for you remember, but difficult enough that nobody else would be able to figure it out. Here are some examples of bad password ideas that can be nailed by brute force. This is the same for pin numbers. Besides the guessing game, hackers can find out a fair amount of information just through social media. Without proper securities, someone may figure out the name of the persons cat or dog, which people commonly use as passwords. Birthdays and maiden names are public knowledge, and not suitable for passwords. It is suggested to use capitalization, numbers, symbols, and adequate length when setting up a password. Using a random generator is a very secure way of initializing a password, as long as one can remember it or safely store it.