The internet has created an entirely new world for us to experience. Regrettably, these exciting new experiences are accompanied by equally great risks. People have learned how to exploit others by using the latest technology, requiring the need for all of us to figure out the best ways to defend ourselves and our families.
Here are the best practices to assist you in protecting your digital self.
How Your Personal Information is Obtained
First, a background on how hackers can use open source and free software to collect info about you. These resources are classified under the OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) category.
Hackers have been using carefully designed software to gather information about private citizens for years. Data providers also collect information about you which gives hackers even more ways to pry on your private information through data leaks.
Your Digital Footprint
Your digital footprint includes every message you’ve ever received, every social media posting you’ve ever posted, and every Facebook picture you’ve ever taken and uploaded.
If it’s online, it’s never ever truly gone. Your digital footprint also includes things that you may not be aware of that you’re doing online. For example, if you let a website save your cookies and digital records, or when your IP address is saved, you are increasing your digital footprint. One way to consider your digital footprint is to classify them as “active” or “passive.”
- Passive footprints are those that you leave without meaning to or, in some situations, really noticing. Websites that gather statistics about how many times you have visited, for example, are “passively” contributing to your digital footprint.
- The footprints you leave as you make conscious decisions on the Internet are known as “active” footprints. Posts on your own social media platforms are a well-known form of active footprint.
Set up two-factor authentication in accounts that support it, or use an additional app
In a nutshell, two-factor authentication means that you provide an additional layer of encryption to your data. For instance, once you log in to your bank account, you must validate it with your cell phone by entering a text or a code sent to you.
Be vigilant when making online purchases
Learn how to spot a scam. Generally, any deal that seems too good to be true is most likely a scam. This is particularly true when it comes to luxury or electronic products such as laptops, smartphones, and watches.
Learn how to conduct online identity checks on suspected individuals
Identity verification is valuable in circumstances such as online dating, a potential employer, or before meeting someone you met online. It can also be helpful if you suspect an individual is abusing your digital identity. Nuwber can help with this.
Set your social media pages as private unless you are a public official
Most of the popular social media sites allow you to make your profile private. Only the people you explicitly choose can see the content you post.
Keep your gadgets up to date and anti-virus apps installed
Companies are often at odds with anti-virus companies who create malware or search for security breaches. It is important to keep your gadgets up to date, this ensures that you have the latest updates to avoid any data leaks.
Take the time to learn what businesses can and cannot do with your data
The Cybersecurity Alliance stresses the importance of understanding how businesses can use your data. All businesses have a business plan that covers their bills and raises money, whether through advertising in the app or through unethical means such as selling your data to third-party firms. This is why it is critical to understand what a company is doing with your information.
Keep your cell phone safe
If you use a mobile phone, an attacker may use devices to overhear your calls or track you down. Use a mobile phone only if you don’t have access to a landline, and try to limit identifying information on your phone calls.
A mobile phone in “silent mode” can still be used to trace information. Cell phones have GPS, which allows them to be located. Switch off your mobile phone if in a sketchy area of town.
Keep your computer safe
Computers save a lot of private information about your activities, such as the places you use, internet-based calls you make, emails and text messages you write, as well as transactions you make. If you use a device that someone else has access to, you can attempt to hide your tracks by doing the following:
- Change your user names and passwords frequently
- Hide your passwords
- Delete private emails, files, and documents
- Clear your search engine and browser history often
Be cautious of the information you share online
This, of course, begins with being extremely skeptical of emails or tweets that request personal information such as your bank statement or social security number. No reputable corporation, bank, or government department would ever request that you exchange confidential information over an unprotected network. It is also advisable to disable all geolocation functionality, especially when it comes to marking locations such as your home or office. Unknown people should not know your location based on what you share online.
Encourage cybersecurity education for children around you
Begin with your children and any other children in your household, of course, but you should also contact friends or other parents and make them conscious of the value of beginning early. Children and adolescents are among the most vulnerable groups to scam, online bully, and other forms of threats, so it is important to educate them about these dangers.
Encourage the state and federal governments to pass laws to protect residents. Send letters to members of Congress or sign online petitions. Topics like net neutrality or privacy protection laws that safeguard the private sphere can seem so far away that you believe they have nothing to do with you. However, everyday ordinary citizens are impacted by judgments made by algorithms, and our government is doing little to prevent this.
You can see, staying safe in the digital world entails doing research and educating yourself on various topics and areas. There is no way to reverse the trend of more businesses becoming data companies. The only defensive tool we have is to be mindful of the knowledge used and consider the information we make public. Taking action every day will allow you to protect your digital self without feeling overburdened.