The digital jungle appears quite scary. Hackers often go unopposed, and sensitive information is spilled out amongst those who have less than honest intentions.
But fret not; we’re not leaving you unprotected. Here are some practical methods you can use to combat hackers and identity thieves — think of it as digital empowerment.
1. Make different emails for different accounts.
Multiple emails are like watertight containers in a ship; one may break, but at least the ship won’t sink. If you have one email, one hub for all your accounts — social media, banking, online shopping sites, etc. — it makes a hackers job easy. Get into one email address, and they’ve gotten into everything. If you have a unique email for each account, it makes getting information much more difficult. Too much work, and they’ll probably leave you be. After all, they may be able to win a battle, but you can still win the war.
2. Have plenty of complicated passwords.
The same rule applies to passwords. Don’t use the same key for every lock. Nothing makes a hacker’s life easier than finding someone using the same password for every account. Instead of using just one word, use a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers and characters. If you want to take it a step further, use a phrase consisting of multiple words and characters.
3.Social media is permanent.
Social media is to the digital age what ink is to paper. Essentially anything posted or shared, tweeted or retweeted is out there for good. Sharing sensitive information like phone numbers, addresses, and pictures puts them in permanent circulation and at the fingertips of hackers and identity thieves. Turning on privacy settings keeps information somewhat safe, but if there’s something you don’t want on an inerasable digital record, it’s best not to share at all. If you decide to give social media a break, deactivate or delete your account. Leaving it unused and dormant leaves it vulnerable.
4. Remain suspicious, and say “no.”
Never drop your guard. All joking aside, identity theft is serious. Getting your social security number taken could have devastating consequences. It never hurts to shun a strange email, a suspicious “your PC needs updates” pop-up, or even messages on social media that simply don’t feel right. And if a site asks for personal information, make sure it’s secure and legitimate.
Read more on what identity theft really is.