No matter the amount of time you’re spending online – whether it’s five minutes or five hours each day – it makes sense to be smart about how and what you’re doing there. Helping protect your personal information from those who’d like nothing better than to steal your online identity is of the utmost importance when it comes to surfing the web. The good news is that you can continue using your devices, but in a safer manner, in a way that will help protect your online identity without interfering with your normal digital activity/routine.

With social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter remaining as popular as ever, cyber criminals have mastered a number of ways to access a wealth of your personal information online. Even people who think they are being cautious with their privacy settings could be vulnerable to a cyberattack – particularly if they allow third-party applications to access their profiles.

Once a user’s information such as location, date of birth, and family connections has been logged, this can be used to hack into their other accounts, such as banking and online storage. So how can you better protect your online identity? Information Transport Solutions, A Uniti company, is here to break it down.

Protecting Your Online Identity 101

Enable Password Protection on All Devices

If you were to accidentally leave your smartphone in a convenience store or the back of an Uber, would the person who found it be able to access what’s on it? That’s a scary scenario. Losing your smartphone is one thing, but giving the finder access to everything from your email and social media accounts to all the personal information you may have stored on the device could play havoc with your life.

Make sure to use a passcode on all of your digital devices – from phones and laptops to desktops and tablets – to help keep your apps, accounts, credit history, and personal information protected.

Similarly, create unique login credentials for each and every of your online accounts to prevent data breaches. Remember, one single breach incident could give hackers access to your other accounts, as well. That’s why it makes sense to use a unique password for each of your online accounts.

Consider using a password manager to keep track of those many, unique passwords. There are several out there with different prices and plans, but it shouldn’t take you too long to figure out which one works best for you.

Use Protected Wi-Fi Outlets

Free public Wi-Fi is convenient, of course, but in terms of security, most free public Wi-Fi networks don’t offer much to help keep you and your personal information protected. That means, with the right tools, anyone else on the same Wi-Fi network could be “eavesdropping” on your online activity. Given that, would you want to log in to your bank account or enter a credit card number while on public Wi-Fi? The answer is no.

Even a password-protected Wi-Fi network is only as safe as the people who have the password. Save transactions for when you’re on a secure network, perhaps at home. If you must log in or transact online on public Wi-Fi, use a VPN (virtual private network), which encrypts your activity so that others on the same network can’t easily see what you’re doing.

At ITS, we pride ourselves on being experts in setting up and maintaining wireless networks designed to deliver reliable wireless service. ITS’ wireless networks can range from a specific area of your building to covering your entire campus or municipality.

Our unified wired and wireless solutions increase protected productivity, enhance collaboration, and improve protected online services.

Be a Scam Spotter

Though some phishing scams are easy to identify, other attempts sent via email, on social networking sites, or websites can look very legitimate. The only way to never fall for phishing scam is to never click on a link that has been sent to you.

For example, if an email says it’s from your bank and has all the right logos and knows your name, it may be from your bank – or it may not be. Instead of using the link provided, find the website yourself using a search engine. This way you will know you landed on the legitimate site and not some mocked up fake site.

Close Out Old Accounts

Think about all of the online accounts you’ve opened over time. Now, consider which ones are still open that you never use. If there’s a breach involving one of those entities, hackers may have access to whatever personal information is tied to that account.

An old email account, for instance, could be holding any number of past bank statements and healthcare forms — and those documents may be filled with personal data that could lead to identity theft. Invest some time in identifying unused online accounts and, then, shutting them down. The less personal information you have stored online, the better.

Beware of Divulging Sensitive Information

Pieces of personally identifiable information make a hacker’s job easier. Divulging sensitive information online is more of a concern in the day and age of social media. If you wouldn’t want a stranger having access to a piece of information about you (phone number, address), don’t put this on your public profiles (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, WordPress blogs, personal websites, etc.).

Wherever possible, update your digital privacy settings to only allow friends, family, and other necessary parties access to your profiles. Frequently revisit these settings as well to ensure nothing was disabled.

Call in the Help of an IT Expert

By using the tips mentioned above, you’ll help keep your personal information a little more “personal” online. You can also take your security measures a step further by enlisting the help of a trusted IT professional.

At ITS, we offer several state-of-the-art security solutions to keep our customers digital footprint secure and free of data breaches. Reach out to us today, and we can discuss the ways that will better suit you in protecting your valuable online identity.

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