In today’s increasingly digital world, it is more and more important to know how to keep your personal information secure. So often, we hear of identify theft and think, “that poor person – well, that will never happen to me!” But there are over 4,000 cyber attacks everyday, which equates to 170 per hour, or nearly three per minute! IBM estimates that businesses are attacked an average of 16,846 times per year – that is 46 attacks every business has to deal with each day or nearly two attacks an hour. So in fact, that could very easily happen to you!
For this reason, we thought it worth taking a few minutes to share our experts’ top tips to keep your personal information safe and reduce your risk of identify theft.
Know who you share information with
Ask questions before you decide to share your personal information. Vigilance is key!
Store and dispose of your personal information securely
Keep a close hold on your social security number and ask questions before deciding to share it – can you use a different kind of identification? Why do they need it? How will it be used? How will they protect it? What happens if you don’t share the number?
If you choose to share it, don’t email your social security number (or credit card and medical information, for that matter!) unless it is encrypted, meaning the content cannot be read by entities other than the intended recipient(s). Not sure how to encrypt an email? Consider using a secure cloud application (like Dropbox, for example) as an alternative.
While we don’t often think about information disposal, it is as important as storage! We recommend making overwriting the entire hard drive of your computer before disposing of it. Check your mobile device’s owner’s manual on how to delete information permanently or transfer to a new device. And be sure to remove your phone book, calls made/received, messages, web search history, and photos.
Maintain appropriate security on your computers and other electronic devices
Last post, we discussed how to put together a security strategy for your devices, including antivirus and antimalware. Additionally, we recommend that our clients share information only with reputable vendors and use a separate email account for vendor information. This provides an added layer of security on top of your being vigilant and alert to impersonators.
Additionally, while it might seem basic, you would be surprised at the number of people who make the mistake of using an automatic login feature that saves your username and password. Stay away from these, and always log off when you’re finished. That way, if your laptop is stolen, it will be harder for a thief to access your personal information.
Keep those passwords private
Use strong passwords for your laptop, credit, bank, and other accounts. Be creative! Think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substituting numbers for words or letters will make it that much more secure. As an example: “I want to see the Pacific ocean” could be 1W2CtPo.