There are many articles about online protection from identity theft. Many experts, however, fail to comment on the importance of privacy and protecting your personal information to help avoid having your identity stolen.
Here are a few things that you should consider to protect yourself from hackers and cybercriminals:
Cookies and Data Mining
Most of the time when your privacy is violated, you aren’t even aware of it. You can improve your awareness and help yourself, your family and your business by knowing about cookies and data mining.
Keeping yourself safe from data mining is a bit more complicated, but there is a simple solution: be careful of what you are doing on social media. What you like and what you post does matter, and the information you share on social media is collected. You can help manage your privacy by “sharing with care” and understanding the implications of your online actions. If there are privacy options on any websites you use, take advantage of them and read up on any policies before you give permission to organizations to monitor your activities. Common sense and patience are your best friends when it comes to keeping your data out of unauthorized hands.
Public Networks and Protections
Although very convenient, public networks or Wi-Fi hotspots pose an identity protection problem. Public networks will often be unprotected, meaning hackers can use “sniffer” programs in order to collect data from users, including personal information and account login credentials.
There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself and stay private on these networks:
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Public wireless networks are not secure; limit the type of business you conduct on public Wi-Fi and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
- Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, make sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.
The Human Factor
When it comes to dealing with other people, you have to think before you act; otherwise you aren’t empowering yourself to the best of your ability. While you primarily deal with programs and webpages online, there is a human factor in everything you do. A person designed, or at least controls, every web page you visit. Every form you fill out can be accessed by at least one person. Personal information given out in any online setting is available to people who can share it.
Most transactions online are safe and beneficial; it this wasn’t the case, then no one would use the Internet. It’s important, however, to remember the human variable in effect at all times. Continually ask yourself, “Who is on the other end of this and what is their intention?”, and you will be much safer for it. If your gut tells you not to trust something, listen to it. If you have no way to take action should something go wrong, don’t give out information. Thinking about the consequences of your online actions and remembering “when in doubt, throw it out,” can help you stay safer and more secure online.
Anyone who is curious about online security can find helpful resources at staysafeonline.org, a website that empowers the normal computer user to take their information security into their own hands. The STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign is a great place to learn about creating a safe online environment.
About the Author
Caroline is a blogger for www.securethoughts.com, an expert site for internet security. She enjoys sharing tips and information about data privacy and identity protection with her readers.