What Every Family Needs to Know About Identity Theft and Digital Privacy

Every time you go online you always put your privacy at risk. Everything from cookies, saved data and things you post allow businesses and social media sites to track you and save information about you. But it also can be snatched up by identity thieves who are looking for your information so they can use it to commit fraud – usually financial fraud. As one of the leading experts in cyber security we feel it’s our mission to help protect our customers and their families. You and your family can minimize the risk of identity theft or avoid investment fraud with a little common sense.

Always Change Your Passwords And Never Use One Password For All Accounts

One of the first ways identity thieves steal information is by getting your passwords. Don’t ever use personal information or dates of birth in your passwords because those are usually easy to crack. Always change your passwords at least once every month or few months, and never use one password for all accounts because if that gets compromised, all of your information could be at risk of compromise.

Never Access Sensitive Information On Public Networks

You probably enjoy the luxury of having free Wi-Fi when going to your local library or coffee shop, but chances are the Wi-Fi networks at those places are unsecured. Sure, you may need a guest password to connect to the free wireless network but the data you transmit on those free networks is sent in clear text and anyone can “sniff” the network to view the data you’re sending.

What? You didn’t know that was possible? Well, it is. And it happens every day.

You should never enter passwords to your accounts on those networks because there is a high chance that a malicious attacker inside the building or even in a building or car across the street is connected to the same free wireless network you’re on and they are running network traffic analyzer software (like Wireshark, for example) to capture a copy of every single packet of data you send from your wireless device. So if you have to access certain accounts while on a public network, then seriously consider subscribing to a VPN service to protect your privacy. A VPN connection will encrypt the flow of data through your computer so it’s not visible to hackers running network packet analysis software.

Always Keep Your Devices Updated And Have Quality Antivirus Software Installed

Keep in mind that antivirus software is simply one layer of security in building a formidable defense against cyber attacks. It is not a “one size fits all” foolproof way to keep your privacy protected in all situations. But having the right kind of antivirus software and keeping it up to date is a great start. And even though operating system updates can be annoying to install, you should never shut them off because they fix vulnerabilities in the OS that could otherwise allow an attacker to compromise your system. You should have antivirus software that not only protects your local devices, but one that can also stop home network threats and prevent dangerous websites from harming your devices.

Encourage Your Family Not To Post Personal Information Online

Identity thieves are always poking around social media and chat rooms, so if you or your family use social media sites always be careful about what you post even in chats with trusted friends and contacts. You should always check the website’s privacy policy to see if it’s made changes that affect you. Also be very careful about going to phishing sites and shopping and entering credit card and address information. If you receive an email message prompting you to click a link to update your account information – NEVER DO IT.

Remember one of the best ways to keep yourself secure is to wipe your old technology, as it is fairly easy for cyber criminals to recover unwiped data from hard drives or mobile phones. Follow these guides, and your family will be in a much better position to effectively protect your privacy from cyber threats and criminals.

 

Resources:

CSO from IDG | 5 worst cybersecurity habits with catastrophic consequences

Bradley Corbett Criminal Defense | Be on the lookout for these 7 types of cybercrime

Kaspersky Lab | Top Seven Dangers Children Face Online: How to Keep Them Safe

Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services | Cyber Security for Families

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