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Protecting Your Identity Online

Identify theft is not a joke, Jim. 

Apologies for the Office reference there, but today we have a serious topic to discuss so we wanted to open light. Identify theft is a real issue in the world, and with the increasing number of us who use the online world for our livelihoods, it is no surprise that now and again we can face some real risks. There are a lot of ways that people can steal personal information from you both on and offline, which is why today we are taking a deep look into some top tips you can use this year.

1. Shred it all 

Whenever you get a receipt, bill, bank statement or anything which account details on it; don’t simply throw it into the recycling with everything else. As disgusting as it might sound there are people out there who will look in bins for this information and use it to steal information and make money from your data. It is important that whenever you want to discard something like this that you shred it, or even place it into your compost bin to decompose! 

2. Secure Your Documents

If you have a lot of different documents on your computer and you want to keep them safe and secure, it is important for you to be able to secure them from anyone other than yourself. You can use identity verification as a service with handy tools and apps, and there are also some tricks on windows you can use. If you have items such as tax returns and financial information you can add a password to the file so that no one but you is able to access it.

3. Vamp up your Passwords

Passwords should be one of the first measures you take when securing your own identity and data online, and in a world of social media and google searches your birthday simply won’t do. The best kind of passwords you can make are two or three random words strung together with 2 numbers at the end. Or if you don’t have the imagination to come up with these kind of passwords, you can also use a password generator. 

4. Never give out information 

One of the things which hackers have become increasingly good at over the last few years is to fool us into thinking that there are a company to be trusted. For example it could be a hacker pretending to be your Apple account or amazon account and often they will send an email telling you that your security has been breached, and in order to stop it you will have to enter your account details. Never EVER click a link which asks you to do this because it is a clever roose to get you to enter your details. Never give your passwords online or over the phone, because real banks and companies would never ask you to do that. 

5. Don’t Be Fooled

If you ever have an issue with your computer, you might want to call up an IT expert for advice to help you solve the issue. However make sure that if someone is on the phone to you and asks for remote access to your machine that you don’t let them have it. Remote access is a way for people to use your computer when they aren’t in the room and this can allow them access to all of your personal files and data. 

6. Lock Your Phone

We all have a smartphone these days, and having a smartphone is one of the most handy things for us when we are leading busy lives. However it is also important for you to realise that a smartphone is an ideal target for any malicious activity and it is what many hackers will target first. When coming up with a password for your phone it needs to be secure and not easy to guess. It is also important to get a phone which has 2 factor authentication such as finger print and Face ID. 

7. Don’t fall for Phishing 

Phishing is one of the most common ways in which people will try to get your data and it is incredibly important for you to never trust something on first glance. A lot of the time hackers will use a fake version of a friend’s account or they will act like someone you know is order to get your personal information from you. Some phishing websites will even mask themselves as bank websites in order to get people to fall into their trap and enter their details. It sounds like something impossible to deal with but actually you can use your skills as a web user to work out which websites are legitimate or not. The trick is in the website domain. Secure and trusted websites have HTTPS as their beginning, and untrusted ones don’t. To be on the safe side only ever visit HTTPS sites. 

8. Install Protection

The most obvious thing you can really do to help ensure that your computer and your identity is safe online is to install some software to protect your machine. Every machine needs antivirus to protect it and there are many other handy tools you can use to make the process easier and to ensure you are safe. 

9. Avoid Oversharing

Sharing things on social media is great and being able to share things about your life with friends and family is always nice. However it is also important to note that social media can be seen by others, and your information can be used against you. One of the most common problems and examples of this is when you post on social media that you are going on holiday. Anyone who may want to target your home will take this chance and attack while you are away. Be smart with your sharing and remember that some things are better kept to yourself now and again. 

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