Have you received one of those dreaded letters saying your information may have been compromised?
It could have come from your insurance carrier, favorite homegoods store, bank, cable provider or other retailer.
Personal and financial information from more than 750 million customer accounts of just a handful of companies were compromised in recent years. And more seemingly every week.
So here’s a Top 10 list of tips to help you keep your information private. As it should be.
- Turn off your computer: When you’re finished using your computer or laptop, power it off. Leaving devices connected to the internet opens the door to attack.
- Talk with your family about Internet safety: Do your children play games on your computer or phone? Are they sharing information in public forums or chatrooms? Are you careful what types of games they’re downloading? Discuss Internet safety and security with everyone in your family.
- Disable Bluetooth: The technology can be incredibly convenient, but it also opens the door to vulnerabilities. Turn it off when you’re not using it.
- Wipe devices to factory defaults before donating or discarding: Sounds easy right, but too many people leave personal information on their devices when they’re finished with them.
- Enable Touch ID on Apple devices: The item is stored within your phone’s chip, is never accessed by iOS, never stored on Apple servers and is never backed up to iCloud.
- Never leave your laptop visible in an unattended vehicle, whether you are on the road or at home: Leaving a valuable computer in the backseat of your vehicle, even in your own driveway, can be a top target for thieves.
- Use a passphrase: Instead of a password, consider a passphrase as a way to create a much longer (and more difficult) password to steal. Think of a series of words that is easy for you to remember, and use the first letter of each word in the phrase, along with a combination of numbers and special characters, as your passphrase
- Regularly monitor activity in your online accounts: A great way to stay on top of a compromised account or fraud is to monitor your account activity regularly. If you notice suspicious activity, notify the companies involved immediately.
- Don’t use the password for more than one account: It’s tough to remember 15 different passwords, but it’s the only way to go. If a hacker determines one login or password, they could have access to everything.
- Be wary of free Wi-Fi networks: Hackers often use unprotected Wi-Fi networks to carry out attacks on unsuspecting victims, stealing credentials or other data in-transit. Avoid using free Wi-Fi networks, particularly in high traffic public places like cafes, airports, and similar places.
While it’s nearly impossible to protect all of your personal information all of the time, you can minimize the potential damage to your finances and workplace by keeping these security tips in mind.