Today, almost everything is online; everything from large corporation files to personal security details. Hackers and scammers know this, and with every day that passes are finding new ways to rob people of their identities. Some petty hackers assume identities out of fun just to harass people. Others, the main identity thieves, assume personal identities to steal enough money from unwary victims.
Keeping your online identity safe has never been harder as hackers implement new schemes every day. However, it is still very possible to secure your online identity. And the best way to do this is to understand how these hackers work. By having the same knowledge that hackers and scammers know, you can learn to prevent your identity from being used in fraudulent schemes. To avoid identity theft, do the following:
- Recognise Phishing scams: Phishing is a longtime favourite scheme of scammers used to carry out identity theft. Phishing happens when scammers lure internet users to reveal personal information (like passwords and credit card details) on fake websites and email forms by pretending to be a legitimate company. If you get emails from websites claiming something is wrong with your account and asking for your personal information, do not click the email. Contact the legitimate company’s call centre (you may find this on their website) and confirm the authenticity of the email. Chances are it’s not, because a legitimate company will never ask for personal details without prior notice.
- Vet All Antivirus Programs: Professional hackers can take advantage of compromised websites by developing virus protection software that can infiltrate your device and track your online activities. By doing this, they can install ‘key-logger’ on your device, which is a device which registers every keystroke you make while online. If a key-logger is installed on your device, you could be at risk of revealing your bank login details or shopping account information. Once this happens, they can use your account to purchase very expensive details sometimes plunging you into debt. Make sure you vet all antivirus software on your device before and after installing.
- Use Distinct Passwords: Strong unique passwords can save you from identity theft. If all your accounts have the same passwords, once a hacker gains access to one credit card account, it opens the doors to others. So take the time to generate unique passwords for all of your sensitive online accounts. You can use an online password generator. It generates long passwords from a strong blend of alphanumeric characters which makes it very hard for hackers to crack. If you need help remembering your many passwords, keep them in a secure notepad or use a password manager. If you’ve been a victim of credit card scam, change your passwords every month.
- Scrutinize Websites: If you shop online a lot, go through search engines for reputable online stores. And after that, make findings as to the security of the website. Any website with ‘https’ means it has a secure connection and will encrypt any data you enter into its forms. If you need further convincing, read up reviews of that particular website. If it’s legit or a scam, you’ll most definitely know by the reviews. Although ‘https’ provides extra layer of protection on websites, that hasn’t stopped professional hackers from doing damage. To further ensure the security of your personal details, use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which helps mask your location and further encrypts any personal information you submit online.
- Guard Your Personal Information: These days, identity theft is rampant. Personal information can be stolen in one quick second without you knowing. So how can you keep your information personal? Never send personal information over a public network, and if you have to, use a VPN. Never ever post personal information on groups, forums or even Facebook pages. The risk these days is too high. Better safe than sorry, they say.
- Monitor Changes on Financial Accounts: Credit card information and bank details are the most commonly stolen information on the internet. It only takes a moment of carelessness to lose your personal information. And if you have doubts as to the security of your financial accounts, monitor changes on the account. Scammers often start with small transactions first when they use someone else’s identity to purchase stuff online. So if you find any suspicious transactions on your account, no matter how minute, contact your bank at once.
- Consider SSL Certificates (Website Owners): SSL Certificates function as small secret data protocols that allow for secure connections on the internet. SSL certificates ensure data encryption and protection. It’s practically a guarantee that your personal information are being sent to the right service and not to some hungry hacker. A wildcard SSL certificate secure your website’s main domain and many sub-domains. And they come cheap, and save you a lot of security stress. So if you have a website, go secure that precious information!
If you follow this guide to the latter, you can be guaranteed a secure internet experience for as long as you live. Those hackers know we’ve got them now!