The free flow of information across the Internet has made a number of convenient services possible. It has also created an environment that could be exploited by malicious individuals. Every person who is using the Internet regularly should take six steps in order to prevent identity theft.
6. Check For Validity
It is important to check the validity of ecommerce and other websites that are asking for personal information. Thousands of websites are currently operating that do nothing more than steal personal information. Any website that is asking for personal information or credit card numbers should look professional. It should also have contact information on the website. It is best to stick to websites that have official certifications or that are part of a larger known trade association. These certifications provide objective third-party information about the website.
5. Check For Encryption
Any website that is asking for sensitive personal information should employ some type of encryption. Most browsers will have a padlock or other icon on the screen indicating that a secure and encrypted connection is in use. Encryption ensures that hackers cannot easily intercept and read data packets moving through the Internet. Websites with problems such as a lack of encryption or an expired security certificate should be avoided until the issue is resolved.
4. Change Passwords Regularly
Passwords are one of the main defenses for an online identity. Passwords should be changed regularly to prevent security problems. Passwords should always be as long as possible and include random sequences of numbers and letters. Using passwords that are easy to remember or that relate to something personal are not very secure. Most services suggest changing passwords every 30 days.
3. Delete Suspicious Emails
Suspicious emails or emails that are clearly spam should be deleted immediately. A good Internet service will usually capture the bulk of spam mail before it reaches an email inbox. Some messages are designed to look like they were sent from a bank or utility company. These phishing scams attempt to collect personal information that could be used for identity theft. No official business will request sensitive personal data through an email.
2. Check Downloads
Never download a file from an unknown source. It is also helpful to scan files with an antivirus program after completing a download. Executing an unknown file on a computer could cause the installation of malicious software. This software could hijack the computer or log all key strokes. Some programs even sit quietly and broadcast personal data back to a remote server. Only software from known sources should be downloaded and executed.
1. Understand Privacy Policies
Signing up for a social media website is not like signing up for residential telephone service. Nearly all of the information that is provided to open a social media account could be made public. Certain social media websites reveal all personal information by default. It is important to read and understand the privacy policies of the website. Most social medial websites have options available that will protect and hide personal data.