Most scams and identity theft has moved online, so digital security has become more important than ever. You need to protect not only your credit card details and personal information but your data too. In this article, we will answer what is digital security and how to increase your safety online.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is all about defending your online information and your devices. Hackers are not the only threats out there, though they are a very large threat. You should also be concerned about your past internet presence being used against you and people tracking you down based on the information you share online.
Digital security does not just mean computer security; it applies to all devices connected to the internet and your online presence. The following things could be under threat:
- Other devices – We’re not just talking about your phone and tablet; anything that connects to the internet is at risk. This could be your TV, gaming consoles, e-reader, your Alexa, smarthome, or even your smart appliances.
- Financial information – Your credit card and payment details could be at risk if you pay through an unsecured website. But there is also a risk of hackers accessing payment or account details by hacking an e-commerce website or even banks.
- Identity – Your identity is at risk in many different ways online. Not only through traditional identity theft activities like opening accounts and credit cards in your name, but through using your identity to catfish other people or conduct illegal activities.
- Data – Your online data is valuable as it shows browsing and buying habits. Many companies make large amounts of money by selling user data and email lists to third parties.
- Your own internet history – Old comments made while you were younger and less wise can come back to bite you. As little as 5 or 10 years ago, many unsavoury terms were part of everyday slang. Online activity taken out of context or where you didn’t know better can cause some serious damage.
6 Tips To Increase Your Digital Security
Now that we are aware of the many online threats, how do we protect ourselves? Not everyone is an IT wizard capable of installing impenetrable online security to protect their online presence. Here are some simple tips to increase your digital security.
Limit the Personal Information You Share
Be really careful about the amount of personal information you put out into the world. When social media was still very new, we would add our hometowns, schools, family members, and dates of birth. Now, most people are a little more careful, but a few people are still sharing way too much information online. Never share the following information:
- Date of birth – at least remove the year of birth
- University and High school – especially do not add the years of graduation
- Place of work – do not give people the chance to mess with your career
- Where you live – if you live in a capital city with a large population, then just share the city. If you live in a small town, give it a miss completely.
- Family members – especially older relatives and children
- Full names – do not add middle names
- Personal contact information – only your friends and family should have access to this
- Photos of ID documents, car license plates, and the front of your house – just don’t take photos of these in general, even if you cover up specific information. Take care with boarding passes, too, as people can use these to access your personal information.
Do not share this information on social media sites or when talking to somebody online. Limiting the amount of personal information you have online will reduce the chances of identity theft. It will also stop people you interact with online from being able to find you in person. By doing this, you are not only protecting yourself but other people around you.
Strict Privacy Settings
Privacy settings for all social media should be kept extremely strict so you can limit who has access to the information you share. Keep access to your social media as friends only and review each friend request before accepting. Go through friends lists every year or so to delete anyone that you don’t want to have access.
Audit Social Media
It is wise to go through your social media from time to time to audit it. Go through old posts and determine if you still want them to exist on the internet. A good principle when auditing or posting is “would I want my mum to see this, or would I want the boss of my dream job to see this?” Deleting it will not remove it from the internet forever, but it will reduce the likelihood of it being used against you.
In general, operate with care when posting on social media or messaging people. You do not know what people can screenshot or keep. This includes things you say and pictures you share.
Set Secure Passwords
Setting a password can be difficult. It is hard to find that sweet spot between it being secure and being easy to remember. Writing passwords down will make even the strongest password weak.
At least do the following things:
- Do not use the same password for everything. Mix up your passwords so that if someone guesses one password, they do not have access to all of your online accounts.
- Have a mix of letters and numbers. Even better, break up words using letters and numbers, so they are not so easy to guess.
- Do not use the word password or sequences of numbers like 123 or 789.
Watch Where You Click
Some of the common ways hackers access your computer is by getting you to download things online or click on popups. If you receive an email from an unknown source or something you didn’t sign up for, mark it as spam, do not open it. Similarly, do not open links if you do not know where they go.
Be Careful on Shared Internet
When your device is logged on to shared internet, it is vulnerable to attacks. Be careful what you check when you are logged onto public WiFi, as it is much easier for strangers to access your device. As a general rule, do not log into financial accounts while on shared WiFi.