The current technological advancements have resulted to a migration of different processes and behaviors from traditional to digital.
From traditional advertisements in newspapers, radio and TV, it has now shifted to online digital marketing. From traditional banking transactions, you can now do transactions on your own through your online account.
Communication have also shifted from face to face to digital through different social networking sites.
Despite the convenience modern technology has brought to everyone’s lives, it also brings with it an opportunity for bad guys to take advantage. With everything almost connected to the internet, personal information has become more vulnerable to abuse and deceit.
The bigger problem however, is that people don’t seem to be aware of the consequences of putting their personal information online. In this post, we will discuss some of the dangers of unprotected personal information online and the different ways on how to protect your personal information.
Dangers of unprotected online personal information
Identity theft is one of the leading cybercrimes committed these days. This happens when someone has access to your personal information and uses it to his/her benefit.
There are cases when these identity thefts pretend to be you and try to scam other people. For example, there was a reported case of a love scam where someone pretended to be a handsome, foreigner guy. He told his chatmate that he sent a package worth $40,000 dollars and she has to send him $4,000 dollars so the package will be released. Turns out, it was a scam. But the picture and information used was that of a real person. Imagine the bad reputation it has brought to the one involved.
Banking Information theft
Cybercriminals try to access your bank account to make unauthorized withdrawals, transfers or purchases. It would be best to protect your bank information, keep it as private as possible and connect to secure connections only.
Your online account can be a source of information for people who are planning something bad against you. For example, you post that you are on a vacation with your family. It would be easy for the bad guys to thread through the information that no one is currently in your house. This will give them an opportunity to commit burglary.
Losing a Potential Job Opportunity
Companies now look at your social networking account to have a glimpse of what kinds of employee you will be. If you share too much information in your public profile like your religious beliefs, political inclinations, likes and dislikes and etc., that it not in line with what the company believes in, this can cost you a potential employment.
Credit Card Scams
Another rising cyber-problem are credit card scams. These happens when unknown purchases are done using your credit card. So, make sure to protect your information and request for additional layer of security from your credit card company.
How to Protect Your Personal Information Online
The above-mentioned dangers are just some of the consequences one can experience if not wary about giving out their personal information online. To avoid being a victim, we have compiled simple ways to protect yourself from cybercriminals.
Use passcode for devices
Add a passcode to your device. This will make it more difficult to access in case it gets lost or stolen. The device is replaceable but the information you have in the device might be difficult to retrieve and might be used in a wrong way.
It is one thing that you lose the device and another thing if the one who got has access to your information. Therefore, it would help if you add a to your devices to add another layer of protection.
Create strong and unique passwords
Passwords are the digital key to your information. It is then advised that you use a strong and unique password. As much as possible, choose a password that is difficult to guess so avoid using common information like your birthday or your name. A strong password would contain alphanumeric characters.
Limit social media sharing
As mentioned above, burglary can occur if bad people will acquire information about your location. Therefore, avoid sharing too much on social media.
Yes, social media accounts can be your platform for self-expression. However, giving too much information about yourself in this networking site can provide an opportunity for people to take advantage of the information share.
Be wary of what you share online.
Don’t fill out your social media profile
Some information like your birthday, your mother’s maiden name or even your social security number can be used to unlock certain accounts.
Exposing this information in social media will leave you vulnerable. It is advisable that you don’t share these information online.
Be wary of free WiFi
Did you know that certified hackers can access your information if you are both connected to the same WiFi connection? Yes, you heard it right. If you are a target of information theft, it is very easy to do so if you use public WiFi.
This is not to say that you stop using public WiFi but rather you must be careful with the sites that you open when connecting to it. For instance, it is not advisable that you open your online bank account using public WiFi. Once they get your information, it will be easier to manipulate your account.
Close unused accounts
Try to remember an account that you are not using anymore. It would be best to just close it down the account than risk having information extracted from it.
For example, if you have an email account that you are not using anymore, better shut it down. It might contain information like your bank account details and other personal information that can jeopardize your online information safety.
Turn on private browsing
Another way of protecting your information online is for you to use private browsing. With private browsing, your search histories will not be kept and therefore will not be sold to legitimate businesses or be accessed by bad guys.
Use two-factor authentication
When purchasing something online, it would be best to have a two-factor authentication. This will add another layer to your online security.
This is particularly true for credit card users. After giving your password, you’ll still be sent a special code that you need to enter before the purchase will be completed.
Imagine losing your credit card. You’ll be more at peace because even if the one who got it figures out your password, it will be more difficult to use it if a special code is needed to complete a transaction.
Keep your Social Network activity private
Okay, if you really want to put your information out there, at least be wary on who has access to them.
In Facebook for example, you can set your privacy settings to friends only. This will control the people who knows your activities.
Lie when setting up password questions
When you set up an account, you’re usually asked to answer a question in case you forget your password. Of course, you can choose a question that is unique and more difficult to answer but most likely, you’ll choose something that is easy to remember.
I mean, you already forgot your password, so why choose a question whose answer is difficult to remember? It might not be a wise choice but in case you’re going that track, it would be better to lie with your answer.
For example, you choose the question “What is your mother’s maiden name?” You can lie with your answer. Just remember the lie well so you won’t be in trouble in the future.
Avoid clicking on links and attachments
This is something everyone must be on the lookout for. When you receive an email asking you to click on attachments, then keep your doubts up. These kinds of emails might be a virus and once clicked, can have access to your information.
So, don’t be gullible and avoid clicking on these links.
Up-to-date internet security package
Another tip to protect your information is to keep your anti-virus updated. This will help you protect your device and it can easily detect and even fight possible viruses that would try to steal your information.
Verify the website you are on is safe
A quick tip for you: if the site starts with https, it means it is safe. But if only has http, then it is unreliable and fishy. Try avoiding these sites.
We might not realize the dangers of putting our information out there and might see these technologies as advancements and be complacent of the security of our personal information.
We should begin to open our eyes to the dangers of not being cautious about what we share. As these technologies give us much comfort, it also comes with the responsibility of securing something that of great value to us – our information.
Putting your address in your social media account might be something that seem to be harmless to you but realize that this is very dangerous because you have given your information to people who would possibly do you harm.
As a popular saying goes, “Think before you click!”