There is no denying that we have built a world that’s largely dependant on online services. Think about it- whenever we seek a small piece of information or need to write a detailed report on a particular subject, book movie or flight tickets or apply for jobs, we always turn to the Internet first. However, when we avail online services, we often share our personal details including our name, address, phone numbers and even identification documents that are issued by the government. We even share these details on social media when we create new accounts. This begs the question- what can we do to protect our identities online?
Identity Protection for Internet Users
When you go online, then you are exposed to two kinds of threats- privacy threats and security threats, although they can be interchangeable in many cases. The good news is that you can minimize the risks to a huge extent by taking appropriate measures and staying up to date with the latest security trends.
The following are some of the most important steps that you can take to protect your identity in the online world:
- Antivirus Software
Online security usually begins with the installation of antivirus software programs as they are often your first line of defense. You can install them on all your Internet-enabled devices viz. smartphones, tablets, and laptops for protection against viruses, spyware, adware, etc. and also unsafe websites. If you don’t know which are some of the best programs in the market today, you can read here all about them in detailed reviews.
- Two-Factor Authentication
Most of your online accounts are protected by a username and a password. So, if a hacker is able to acquire these two details through any means, then they can steal your private information. You can prevent this from happening by using two-factor authentication whenever possible.
Two-factor authentication is an additional security measure that works in tandem with the standard credentials-based verification system. When it’s enabled, then a user is asked to authenticate themselves with an additional method. For instance, once you verify your account with the correct username and password, then it may send an OTP to the registered mobile number which you have to provide to complete the verification process.
Two-factor authentication is supported by a large number of popular websites like Gmail, Facebook, iTunes, etc.
- Software Updates
Updates for operating systems and software programs, whether we talk about smartphones or computers, are released by the developers on a regular basis. These updates are usually aimed at improving the user experience, offering new features and services, and enhancing online security. For instance, Facebook recently announced that its messenger app is to become faster, lighter, and more secure than ever. So, if you will update the app once the new features are added, then you can use its services in a more secure environment.
If you want to stay protected from the emerging online threats at all times, then it’s strongly recommended that you update all the apps you use along with the OS whenever new updates are available. You can also enable automatic updates so that you don’t have to bother with manual processing all the time.
- Protection Against Phishing Attacks
According to a Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report, 90% of breaches and related incidences involve a phishing element which only goes to show how serious of a problem phishing attacks are.
In a phishing attack, a fraud individual sends you an email masquerading as someone else which is usually a government department, bank, tax official, etc. The idea is to trick you into giving away confidential information that can be used by them to commit identity theft or fraud. For instance, they may tell you that someone is trying to access your online bank account and to prevent that from happening you should change your username and password. They usually share a website link which they say can be used by you to change the password but it’s fake. If you decide to click this link and enter your details on the webpage it’s taken you to, then the details are shared by the cybercriminal and they can use the same to transfer the funds from your account to theirs.
There are many ways to prevent a phishing scam. For starters, you can avoid clicking the links shared in suspicious emails. You can also confirm if these emails are sent by genuine users or authorities by calling them up yourself. Another key detail to check for authentication is the actual email address from which the emails are sent.
- VPN Services
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network which is exactly what it sounds like- a virtual network that allows you to connect with different websites in a private and secure environment. With this, rather than connecting to the websites directly with your system, you can connect with them through a different network that’s created by a foreign server. Also, the data you share is encrypted so that even if someone tries to tap into the connection, they can’t read what’s being sent or received.
VPN services allow you to access the Internet without revealing your true identity or exposing sensitive information to unauthorized users. You can also use them to enjoy faster Internet speeds, unlock geo-restricted content, or purchase online services at lower costs. However, make sure that read about which VPN service best fits your needs before you pay for any service.
Identity theft and online frauds are real problems affecting web users across the globe today. When you access online services and websites, then you are constantly under new threats. However, there is a slew of measures that you can take to protect yourself some of which are explained above. So, be sure to take note of them to stay protected at all times.