Our digital identities are shaped by personal information about ourselves that we share online: name, age, gender, geographical location, email address, phone number, etc. If someone steals this data to act on our behalf, we might lose our funds, reputation, and social connections. In this article, you’ll find useful tips on protecting your digital identity from theft and enhancing the security of your online presence.
Create Several Digital Identities
Maybe you have two phone numbers or two emails and use the first one for work and the second one for private communication. Similarly, you can create multiple digital identities.
Emails Can Help
Have several emails.
- You can create your first email address to communicate with banks and government bodies.
- The second email address exchanges messages with diverse offline recipients (such as shops, garages, dental clinics).
- Your third email address is for friends, relatives, and social networks.
- A fourth email address will be for subscriptions and registrations.
Each of your digital identities will be connected to a particular email, but they will never overlap — these types of actions create your safety net of digital identities.
You can access all your email addresses from the same mailbox. For instance, you can automatically redirect all the incoming messages to the same Gmail inbox. Gmail will let you select the address that you would like to send each of your emails from.
You won’t even need to use exclusively @gmail.com addresses. Microsoft Outlook functions on the same principle and allows users to attach up to 10 auxiliary emails to the main one so that you have 11 addresses all in all.
Replace Your Password with a Passphrase
A passphrase consists of several words, so it’s much more difficult to brute-force it than a password. Ideally, these words should be generated randomly, and each of them should contain a minimum of 16 characters.
For each site and service you use, you should generate a unique passphrase. Of course, it might be tricky to remember all these combinations — but you can download 1Password, LastPass, or Dashlane. These trusted and credible password managers will safely store your passwords in a well-protected database.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Some modern online services include two-factor authentication as a mandatory feature; others offer it optional. After you enable the two-factor authentication, you won’t be able to access your account just by inserting your password. The system will send you a confirmation link or code to your phone or email that will serve as the key to your account.
If someone tries to hack your account from a remote device, you will get to know about it.
Install and Enable an Antivirus
Modern antiviruses are powerful multifunctional programs. They efficiently protect users not only from malicious software but from all sorts of threats. They identify a menace long before it attacks your device and ward it off.
Also, they check your system and software updates to make sure you use the latest versions. Updatings are essential for security because newer versions of the programs don’t contain old vulnerabilities.
If a site or service asks you to share your confidential data, think twice whether it really needs it. Is it necessary for a game, news aggregator, or dating service to know your birth date or bank account number? Or is it just a nefarious trick to cheat confidential information out of you?
Inspect your bank statements and payment history weekly. According to a stereotype, if hackers get hold of your bank account, they will immediately transfer all your funds to their account. But this will inevitably attract your attention, so some smart violators opt for small transfers instead. If you notice payments for goods or services that you never purchased, your account might be hacked.
Don’t include meaningful personal information in your social media profiles.
Indicate only the data that you are ready to share literally with the whole world, including thousands of people that you will never know.
If you receive an email with a link, open it only in case you know the recipient well. Spammers and organizers of phishing attacks might ask you to visit a certain page, to indicate your account data or financial credentials. Some ask you to confirm the receipt of a pre-approved credit card that you never ordered.
If you receive a similar email from your bank, get in touch with its support service, and ask if they indeed sent it.
Use Browser Security Tools
To get rid of the annoying ads for good, install AdBlock Plus. To block spying ads and invisible trackers, use Privacy Badger. To make your browser always redirect you to safer HTTPS versions of websites from the outdated HTTP ones, apply HTTPS Everywhere.
You can choose between dozens of free extensions that are compatible with nearly any browser and will efficiently protect your digital identity.
However, the protective software that you have installed might not be enough to stop tracking completely. To check how safe your browser is, use Panopticlick: it will measure your security level and analyze your system configurations. Relying on the impartial results of the analysis, you will be able to fine-tune your settings, delete or install certain add-ons, etc.
Monitor the News
If a bank, a governmental body, or an e-commerce institution falls prey to a data breach, it will be mentioned in the news. If it turns out that your confidential data might be compromised, change all your passwords immediately.
Hopefully, this article came in handy, and now you know how to protect your digital identity. Losing it might sometimes be just as troublesome as losing your real-life passport.
The above-listed recommendations can be applied to any device that you use to go online, be it a stationary computer, a laptop, a smartphone, or a tablet. As you see, you don’t need to be a geek to enhance your internet privacy and enjoy the time you spend online to the max.
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