Tip of the Week: Guard Your Online Identity with These 8 Tips

The Internet has streamlined how we do business and how we communicate. These benefits however also come with an element of risk, that of exposing a user’s private information to unintended audiences.

Your private information could be exposed unintentionally because of technical issues, the ignorance of users, or you could be targeted, maliciously. Hackers could deploy malware to harvest personal data from online, and the most vulnerable websites would be victims of these data leaks. At a personal level, or as an organization, what measures could you take to avert being one of the victims of data theft targeting identifies and personal information?

Here are eight best practices that you should employ to shield yourself and your business from the malicious exposure of sensitive information when online.

Proper Password Management Practices

Your password is the primary buffer in data privacy. Make sure that you change your password regularly. You should also avoid using obvious passwords, e.g. your birthday or pet’s name as the password. Come up with complex but memorable passwords formulated using a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols. Enterprise-level password managers are excellent tools to help keep everything straight.

Web Security Certificates

Websites have different levels of security, and if you are going to share your personal information on any website, check to see that it is secured using security certificates. At the address bar on your browser, check to see whether the website has a green padlock symbol. The green symbol indicates that the site has employed an extra level of security for encryption to protect users’ data from vulnerability. Google Chrome decided to call out websites by openly highlighting ‘Secure (HTTPS)’ or ‘not secure (HTTP)’ on the URL bar.

Deploy a Spam Filter

Spam emails are the most effective conduits for delivering and installing malware remotely. The spam emails carry links that are deceiving, and once you click on them, you will be led down a rabbit hole where you will be relieved of your personal information. Deploy spam filters that will filter out these emails before they hit your inbox. Good spam filters will allow you to open the emails designated as spam in a safe environment or ‘sandbox,’ just in case the email is not spam.

Watch What You Download

We all like free stuff, or irresistibly good deals where we get to save on the cost.  The internet has lots of these, including “freeware,” but they might carry malware or adware with them as well that will be installed alongside the freeware. Also, before subscribing to any services, make sure that you read and understand the end-user license agreement, lest you give the website rights to your private information inadvertently.

Update your Firewall and Antivirus

Don’t just have your antivirus and firewall running, but ensure that they are up-to-date. Malicious parties on the internet are always snooping around to detect any vulnerabilities. That is why updates are done in software development, including firewalls and antivirus. Hackers can identify bugs in your legacy firewall or antivirus and exploit the bug to penetrate your network. Do not disable your firewalls or antivirus, and always confirm that they are up-to-date.

Use Content Filtering

Content filtering is not just for blocking employees from accessing social media at your workplace. Content filtering services can go beyond stopping timewasting on Facebook to protecting the users’ data from fake and malicious websites. Other websites, including pornographic websites, online shopping stores, and betting websites are common sources of malware that could be exploited to penetrate your private network. Stop it before it occurs.

Verify Information

Spam and content filtering tools could be deceived by phishers. Phishing attacks use deceptive, fraudulent information, mimicking genuine information. Before taking any step that includes revealing yours, or your company’s private details to a third party, make sure that you verify, both online and offline. Look out for unusual user behavior, including spelling mistakes and other obvious details, such as email addresses, contact information and the names of people from the other side. Phishers are good, but they can be detected if you verify all details with scrutiny.

Take your time before making decisions

Do not act on impulse and you will have adequate time to walk through the glaring discrepancies before your eyes. If faced with a threat, for example, ransomware, contact other people who have sufficient experience dealing with these situations. You might find yourself going deeper down the rabbit hole because of threats that can be neutralized before they hit crisis level.

For more tips and tricks on how to secure your identity when online reach out to us. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to receive notifications of our new blog posts.

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