Technology is incredible. It can be our best friend and our worst enemy. It can simplify or complicate our lives. For many of us, it would be virtually impossible not to use technology in any given day. Therefore, we rely and depend on its functionality to increase our productivity and its ability to entertain and amuse. It would be hard to imagine our world today without the use of technological advancements and how they play into our everyday lives both personally and professionally. Technology has truly changed our lives and reshapes the way we live it. Some of us love it and some of us are frustrated with it. It can even be a love/hate relationship. This is evident as many people are guilty of being addicted to the internet and social media. That said, it is undeniable that we have seen many benefits of technology as well. Technology has created a whole new world and brought endless opportunities. Routine tasks have become easier and the workplace has become more efficient. We can get connected with people from different parts of the world. We have information and knowledge at our fingertips. People communicate and interact in new ways. Truth is, there are many pros and cons that are associated with technology,
One of the most important things to consider in relation to technology is online safety. In today’s digital world, online safety should be of highest concern. There are many things to consider when protecting your online identity, reputation and overall security. From privacy concerns to sexual predators and identity theft, lots of dangers exist on the internet. Children and teenagers need supervision when using the internet and adults need to remain attentive as well. Attention to specific safety concerns, such as sharing your location, photos and personal information, as well as always maintaining a sense of awareness and diligence, will go a long way in protecting yourself and your loved ones.
By now you’ve most likely heard about the Equifax data breach swirling around the news recently. If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies. According to Equifax, here are some of the facts and the steps to take to help protect your information from being misused.
Unfortunately, cyberattacks and data breaches are facts of life for government agencies, businesses and individuals in today’s digitized and networked world. We’re taking a closer look at protecting your personal information. If your privacy has ever been invaded or you want to keep yourself informed in order to protect your rights–we’ve got you covered.
According to data from The Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans (64%) have personally experienced a major data breach. A relatively large portion of the public lacks trust in key institutions – especially the federal government and social media sites to protect their personal information
- 41% of Americans have encountered fraudulent charges on their credit cards.
- 35% have received notices that some type of sensitive information (like an account number) had been compromised.
- 16% say that someone has taken over their email accounts, and 13% say someone has taken over one of their social media accounts.
- 15% have received notices that their Social Security number had been compromised.
- 14% say that someone has attempted to take out loans or lines of credit in their name.
- 6% say that someone has impersonated them in order to file fraudulent tax returns.
Despite these high percentages, many individuals fail to follow cybersecurity best practices in their own digital lives. In an increasingly digital world, an individual’s personal data can be as valuable – and as vulnerable – to potential dangers. We’re providing some clarity about some key cybersecurity topics, terms and concepts in order to protect your personal information. Check it out!
Personal information is any information or combination of information that allows an individual to be identified. Personal information is used by many businesses for legitimate communication. However, this is not always the case and some personal information can be misused by criminals or inappropriately by marketers.
What is my personal information? Your personal information may include:
- full name
- phone numbers
- date of birth
- email address
- username and password
- bank details
What might happen if I share my personal information online?
- Spam, scams, identity theft and fraud are just some of the more serious issues that you might face if you are sharing personal information online.
- Create Complex Passwords
- We know you’ve heard many times, but creating strong, unique passwords for all your critical accounts really is the best way to keep your personal and financial information safe. This is especially true in the times we live in of widespread corporate hacks, where one database breach can reveal tens of thousands of user passwords.
- Select passwords carefully. When creating passwords there are some definite dos and dont’s.
- make it at least eight characters in length
- combine letters, numbers and upper and lower-case letters
- change your password regularly
- use pet names, birthdates, family or friends’ names
- share passwords with others, even with friends
- store them on the device
- Only access accounts from secure locations
- Make sure that your connections are secure. At home or work, you most likely use a password-protected router that encrypts your data. But on the road, you might be tempted to use free, public Wi-Fi. The problem with public Wi-Fi is that it is often unsecured. This means it’s relatively easy for a hacker to access your device or information. If you’re on the road frequently, you may consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a piece of software that creates a secure connection over the internet, so you can safely connect from anywhere.
- Use two-factor authentication whenever possible
- Two-factor authentication adds another layer of security when logging into a website, including e-mail, banking, or other websites. Some websites, such as Google, will text you a code when you login to verify your identity, while others have small devices that you can carry around to generate the code. Authenticator apps are also available on most smartphone platforms. Look into the various settings of your banking, shopping, and e-mail hosts for options.
- Keep your tech updated
- Although it may seem like a hassle, by downloading the latest version of your computer or phone operating system, browser, and apps you will insure that you’ve got the most current security measures in place.
- Check your credit reports
- Checking your three free credit reports each year is a relatively simple way to see whether your credit profile is being used without your knowledge. If you discover potential signs of fraudulent activity on your credit report, call the credit bureau and your credit card issuer to find out the extent of the damage and put a stop to any further fraud.
- Sign up for credit monitoring if you think you’ve breached
- If a retailer notifies you of a breach of their system in which your information may have been accessed, they’ll probably also offer you a year of free credit monitoring services, which will run your credit reports, look out for new accounts, and monitor for other flags like a change of address.
*This has occurred in the latest Equifax breach. According to the Equifax site, whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Write down the date and come back to the site and click “Enroll” on that date. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
7. Reduce spam by protecting your details. Spam can be reduced by:
- limiting disclosure of email addresses and mobile numbers
- installing and using spam filtering software
- checking the terms and conditions when purchasing products, entering competitions or registering for services or email newsletters
- not allowing contact details to be used for marketing purposes (making sure you check the opt out box)
- boosting online security to limit spam.
- Practice safe surfing, shopping and subscribing that require personal information
- When shopping online, or visiting websites for online banking or other sensitive transactions, always make sure that the site’s address starts with “https”, instead of just “http”, and has a padlock icon in the URL field. This indicates that the website is secure and uses encryption to scramble your data so it can’t be intercepted by others. Also, be on the lookout for websites that have misspellings or bad grammar in their addresses.
- Use Security Software
- Install anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and a firewall. Set your preference to update these protections often. Protect against intrusions and infections that can compromise your computer files or passwords by installing security patches for your operating system and other software programs.
- Don’t Overshare on Social Networking Sites
- Almost everyone is one some type of social media or social networking site these days. If you post too much information about yourself, an identity thief can find information about your life, use it to answer security questions on your accounts, and get access to your money and personal information. Consider limiting access to your networking page to a small group of people. Never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or account numbers in publicly accessible sites.
As a general rule, always keep your guard up. Always be cautious about what you do online, which sites you visit, and what you share. Use comprehensive security software, and make sure to backup your data on a regular basis in case something goes wrong. By taking preventative measures, you can save yourself from major headaches and keep you and your loved ones safe.
Schulze Law can help answer any questions or concerns regarding your privacy and safety. Contact us today if you need assistance with understanding the legality of online safety or how to take action against defending your confidentiality. Here’s to online surfing…safely!