In the 1995 film “The Net,” the identity of Angela Bennett, Sandra Bullock’s character, was stolen, resulting in a string of sinister incidents, including multiple murder attempts, that forced her to run for her life.
This is an extreme example, of course. However, identity theft is not unheard of. In fact, it is becoming increasingly common. In 2017, 16.7 million Americans became victims of identity fraud, an all-time high, according to The 2018 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin Strategy.
With more and more people using the internet there are more potential identity theft victims. So what can you do to protect your online identity?
We’ve listed four ways below:
How to Protect Yourself Online
1. Regularly Look Yourself Up
Do you know what Google brings up when somebody searches for you?
Think about this: A lot of people will possibly use Google to find more information about you - potential employers, referral sources, current and potential clients, people who dislike you, people who are starting to like you, even former and future romantic partners.
Here’s what is scary. In today’s hyper-connected world, personal and professional boundaries are getting more and more blurry. Various sites that scrape data from public web sources can make things even worse, as they may publish personal information such as your home address, birthday, and phone number. As such, make sure to regularly Google yourself and attempt to remove data you don’t want other people to see:
- Delete (or make private) your email address, phone number, home address, or images from sites that you can control, including Facebook and other social media sites
- If your photos show up on sites you don’t have control over, reach out to the administrator and request to take the images down
- If your repeated requests fall on deaf ears, it may be time to involve a lawyer
Related Article: How your Data Might be Under Attack
2. Sign Up for an Identity Monitoring Platform
In a perfect world, there would be no need for identity theft monitoring services. But with data breaches now happening more frequently, chances are we would be needing them sooner rather than later. Identity monitoring platforms protect your identity and, in case of theft or fraud, help you recover it.
Examples of identity theft monitoring services include:
3. Check Your Privacy Settings
When using social media sites and apps, ensure your privacy settings are correctly set up. You don’t want posts you only want to share with friends and family available to the public, or just about any app accessing your location information or posting random stuff on your behalf.
Always stay in control over who can look you up, contact you, and see what you share by making sure your privacy settings are exactly how you want them to be.
4. Strengthen Your Passwords
Hacking and data breach reports are getting more widespread nowadays, so you’d think people would take the time to create stronger passwords to protect their online data. Wrong! According to a study, the seven worst passwords of 2018 were:
Coming up with strong passwords can be time-consuming, even intimidating for some, but as they say, better safe than sorry. Follow password best practices when crafting one, such as using associations that are unique to you, as outlined in this National Institute of Standards and Technology guide.
To further strengthen your passwords, which can still be stolen if they’re stored somewhere, make sure to enable multi-factor authentication.
Cybersecurity and Northcentral University
At the heart of businesses, governments, and various other sectors of society is data. As such, keeping data secure is of paramount importance. At Northcentral University, our Master of Science in Cybersecurity program arms students with the cutting-edge skills and knowledge they need to successfully protect critical information platforms.
Call 866-776-0331 for any questions or fill out the form below to request for information.