September 13, 2018

10 Ways to Protect Your Digital Identity – and Why You Should

A digital identity is the online version of a person’s identification. Needless to say, theft of this type of data is one of the most frequent cyber crimes today. 

Though the digital world, and having access to financial accounts, shopping, and a social media network, provides easy and convenient connectivity, that access and reach also makes confidential information more vulnerable. According to a 2018 Identity Fraud report by Javelin, in 2017, there were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud - a record high that followed a previous record the year before.

An IDology Consumer Digital Identity Study released in June 2018 showed that 57% of consumers are more concerned that their personal information online will be compromised compared to the same time one year ago. The study also showed that 83% surveyed have expressed extreme to moderate concern that their identities will be used to fraudulently open accounts.

While close to 67% of consumers surveyed by IDology think it’s a company’s responsibility to protect the consumer data it collects, almost 59% strongly agree that it’s a personal responsibility.

Here are 10 ways to protect your digital identity.

  1. Be alert to scams: Keep track of major data breaches that are covered in the news, and how they could compromise personal information.
  2. Properly manage passwords: The IDology study revealed that 44% of those surveyed write passwords down (for others to possibly see) while 73% seldom change them. Safer password habits include creating a password that is at least 8 characters. A catchphrase (use the first letter of each word) helps make it tough to guess. Avoid using the same password for different activities and websites, especially financial sites.
  3. Keep all software systems updated: It's most important not to delay the process of updating computer and phone operating system, anti-virus, mobile apps and web browsers.  
  4. Make sure every site you visit is secure: The address bar of an website visited should start with ‘https://www’’. The ‘s’ means there is a secure connection, and information that circulates through the website is encrypted and no one can intercept it.
  5. Don’t fall for phishing: Think before you click on links in emails especially from someone you don’t know. The link might take you to a phishing site that has been designed to look real but has an intention to trick visitors into entering personal information such as login information and financial details. Type in the URL instead to cheque legitimacy.
  6. Use two-factor authentication when possible: Two-factor authentication is more secure because you need a smart card or token and a PIN or password to use your online identity.
  7. Avoid public WiFi: Don’t use public or unprotected WiFi networks when accessing confidential information outside the office. Use a secure network or a virtual private network (VPN) instead. 
  8. Be safe on social media websites: Review privacy policies and the permissions you give.
  9. Don’t over share anywhere: Avoid posting identifying information (PII and photos or videos that reveal personal data). Don’t share login credentials with anyone.
  10. Securely destroy data when no longer needed: Shred documents and hard drives containing personal information before discarding.

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