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5 Security Tips to Prevent Online Identity Theft

Karthik Reddy 0

Data breaches are happening every day, and the main culprit behind all these attacks is identity theft. It’s estimated that identity theft is accountable for 65% of breaches and 3.9 billion compromised data records every year. These fraudulent activities have become big business. They cost the global economy around $4 trillion in 2018

There are various kinds of identity theft and fraud. Scammers can access someone’s health insurance, create false identities using a child’s social security number to apply for bank loans or benefits, update credentials to access a college fund, etc. They are taking advantage of every opportunity they can, and the coronavirus crisis is no exception.

Although there isn’t a fail-safe way to protect yourself from scammers, you can take a few steps to reduce this risk. Here are five security tips that can protect you from hackers.

1. Strong Password

Creating a strong password is the first line of defense in preventing identity theft. One of the common ways of hacking into your account is by cracking your password. If scammers access just one of your accounts, there’s a possibility of hacking multiple accounts using the same details.

Create strong passwords for every account you have. Try to be creative and think of a unique phrase to generate a complex password. For instance, “I don’t want to climb the Himalayas” could become IDW2CTH.

2. Dispose of Personal Information

Before disposing of a computer, don’t forget to delete all the information it stores. Use a data-wiping program to overwrite the hard drive.

62% of global users access the internet on their mobile phones making mobile phones a serious liability for data breaches.

When disposing of a mobile phone, deleting your files and data won’t remove all the information. So it’s necessary to restore your phone to factory settings, which will eliminate the encryption key to the encrypted files.

External storage media, such as SD cards, should also be properly erased or destroyed physically.

3. Keep Away From Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are still one of the most common methods scammers use to steal personal information and carry out identity fraud. These emails are carefully designed to deceive you into revealing confidential information such as account numbers, passwords, date of birth by clicking on a link. They can also include attachments that can infect your computer with malware when opened. 

Although these emails may seem legitimate, there are always some red flags. The most common ones are typically mismatched URLs, poor spelling, requests for sensitive information, and creating a sense of urgency. 

4.  Public Wi-Fi

Although public wi-fi is a fast and convenient way to go online, it opens a wide range of security risks that can lead to identity theft. It doesn’t require any authentication, so hackers can have direct access to unsecured devices on the same open network. Public wi-fi can also be used for spreading malware, thus allowing scammers unrestricted access to information on your device. Scammers can use this information to commit identity fraud or sell your information to third parties.

5. Encrypt Your Files

If you store sensitive information like tax, bank account, and medical records on your computer, you should use data encryption programs. Some programs, such as VeraCrypt, will create a different version of Windows on your encrypted disc. This will allow you to enter two different passwords when your system boots. One will lead you to your regular OS, and the other will guide you to the version that doesn’t hold any sensitive information.

Conclusion

The growing fear of digital threats is causing users to take measures to protect their data. If your data gets compromised, that doesn’t automatically mean that you will be a victim of impersonation. The important thing is to stay alert and use these measures to reduce the risk of cybercrime as much as you can.

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