How Protected Is Your Online Information?
Are you a person who does a lot of online transactions? The Internet has become a major way to shop, do online banking, and other errands. Many people would rather do this than physically go to the store or the bank. Many individuals enter in their debit or credit card information without much thought. But just how protected is your online information?
A few years back, Russian cyber criminals stole $70 million from online banking information. And back in 2008, ten million Americans were identity theft victims, and that number has only grown over the last couple of years. Basically, your online information probably isn’t as safe as you think it is.
So what are some things you can do to protect yourself from having your online information compromised?
Don’t Have the Same Password for Everything
Cyber criminals rely on individuals using weak or predictable passwords. If you use the same password for every online account, or if you use one that is easy to guess, like the digits of your birth date, you are at a higher risk for becoming a cyber crime victim. You should have a password that is at least eight digits in length, which combines numbers, letters, and at least one symbol. And you should change your passwords often.
Don’t Click on Pop-Ups
Cyber criminals often create legitimate-looking pop-up windows to attack victims. Never enter in password information, credit card information, or download anything from a pop-up window. If you are interested in what the pop-up is showing you, open another tab and search for it in a new browser. If the company is “the real deal,” you can find its information at its site rather than through a pop-up window. It’s just not worth the risk.
Always Log Out When Using a Public Computer
This piece of advice doesn’t have to do with online criminals so much as just individuals in general. If you are using a computer at a city library or a school, always log out of every site. If you don’t, you run the risk of someone seeing your personal information. It may not log you out automatically, so when the next computer user logs in, your information could be compromised.
Have Anti-Virus Protection
You should always have anti-virus protection on your computer. Failing to do so leaves your computer, or network of computers, wide open for cyber crimes. In addition, update your anti-virus protection often. Companies that offer this protection are continually working to update their software to make it safer and more effective, so take full advantage of these heightened security measures when they are offered to you.
Don’t Keep Sensitive Information Online
This one should be fairly obvious, but many computer users seem to do it anyway. Do not keep sensitive information online. Rather than putting a list of passwords or bank information on an online document or in an email, keep it on a Word document. You could even go as simple as writing down your passwords by hand and putting them in a safe place rather than on the computer at all.
While online crime rates are on the rise, you don’t have to be the next victim. Taking precautionary measures will increase your safety and help you avoid some major cyber headaches.
About the Author: Rick Delgado is a freelance writer who specializes in technology advancement and network forensics. He enjoys keeping up with the latest gadgets and anticipating the next breakthroughs.
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