It seems like every few weeks or so a news story will pop up reporting about the latest data breach at a major company. Even if you have never conducted business with that particular firm, these reports are alarming and can make you wonder about the safety of your own personal information online.
Fortunately, there are a number of tangible steps that you can take to help enhance your safety when you are online, and decrease the chances that your identity, credit card number and other data does not fall into the wrong hands.
For example, please consider the following tips:
Create Strong Passwords
Criminals can be really adept at figuring out passwords and chances are they can find your birthday or your dog’s name on social media, so skip these passwords in lieu of a combination of upper and lowercase letters and numbers. Also, be sure to come up with a unique password for every website you visit; this way, if a scammer does figure out your password, it will only be for one site. The only downside to this tip is that when you are choosing strong passwords correctly, they can be hard to remember.
For example, if you need to connect a new device or let a guest access your WiFi network, you may need some advice on how to find your WiFi password. No worries at all—Cox offers easy-to-follow instructions on how to find WiFi passwords on laptops, and how to find WiFi passwords on a Mac, on Windows and on your phone.
Add Multi-Factor Authentication
Another way to help prevent identity theft is by adding multi-factor authentication for any account that offers it. This will provide extra security by requiring you to have two or more credentials to log into your account. This can be a passcode that is sent to you by the company via text, or maybe a face recognition scan through your phone. This extra tip will make it tougher for criminals to get access to your accounts if they do manage to figure out your password.
Be Leery When Checking Emails
Cybercriminals are aware of what types of emails people are likely to open, so they will do their best to send out phishing scams that often look remarkably legitimate. Be extra vigilant when going through your emails and if you see a message you were not expecting from your bank or utility company or if you get an email confirming a purchase that you know you didn’t make, do not click on any links or attachments. If you are unsure, call the company in question to ask if they sent you an email.
Invest in an Identity Theft Protection Plan
Once you have made the necessary changes to boost your online security, you may want to invest in an identity theft protection plan that will keep a virtual eye on your accounts 24/7. Companies such as LifeLock will monitor your information and immediately send you alerts if something is amiss.
For instance, if you apply for a credit card, LifeLock will send you an email or call you to say your credit score has been accessed; in this case, you can send the all-clear. But you may also get alerts to activity you have not initiated—if this happens, the company will work to remedy the issue and help keep your data safe.
Being Proactive Makes a Big Difference
Those news stories about data breaches are definitely concerning to read, but just because they happen pretty frequently does not mean your personal data has to be at risk. By being proactive and creating really strong passwords, adding multi-factor authentication whenever possible, knowing how to spot a phishing email and investing in an identity theft protection program, you can rest assured that you are doing all you can to help keep your information secure.