Are you a person who frequently ignores the update message from your firewall or antivirus? Do you never use a password manager and have the same password for all the services? Is your password easily predictable and linked to your birthday, child’s name, pet name, personal interest, etc.? Here are some scenarios you will be facing in the future.
- Your emails will get hacked.
- Essential details from your work will get leaked, and you will get blamed for selling them to the competitor company.
- A girl might sue for marrying her in a distant country.
- A bank might send a notice for you to pay back the loan you never applied for.
- Your driving license will get cancelled because you got into a ‘major accident’.
You might question how is any of this possible when you have never committed any of the crimes mentioned above. The answer is your digital safety negligence led to identity theft, leakage of personal data, and misuse of your personal information.
Cybercriminals or hackers work to gather valuable personal information from unsuspicious internet users like you. If your computer stays unprotected because of an outdated firewall or antivirus software, they quickly get into your system and get your details.
How Does This Happen?
Have you ever clicked on the wrong download button when you tried to download a free song or Gif clip? They cleverly place the appropriate download button way down on the website and a download button for an unwanted service right where we will click, making malware enter your system.
You click on such things accidentally. Your computer does not have proper defender software to warn you when the malware enters or to prevent it. You use easily traceable passwords for several accounts.
These habits, which are common among most internet users, pave a red-carpet welcome to cybercriminals. They quickly get all your data from the autofill settings of your computer, your photo, insurance, social security number, and driving license details – all stored digitally in a file in the computer.
They use this information effectively to create fake documents ranging from driving licenses to documents necessary to get bank loans, counterfeit passports, etc. If a person uses your identity and commits crimes offshore or in a different city, the victims will believe you committed the crime and press charges against you.
How to Protect Your Digital Details Shared Online?
The best way is to avoid sharing details online. But since it is not possible in this digitized era, it is crucial to follow the following steps without fail.
Firewall and Antivirus: Always have advanced antivirus and firewall software protecting your desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone. Antivirus and firewalls have a different set of features. Enquire about the same to the vendor you are purchasing the software in detail and opt for the most secure and high-tech version. There are many advantages in using such software ranging from
- Masking your credit card information
- Alerting you not to click on a download link or an email attachment if the software suspects it has malware
- Preventing intrusion attacks
- Scanning the computer regularly for virus and spyware
- Warning you to avoid certain websites
Not all security software comes with these features. But, many do, and some features like encrypting your credit card information might require an extra amount or an add-on feature.
When you try to download apps and plugins for browsers, ensure you choose only reliable ones with lots of downloads. Hackers easily duplicate apps and plugins with similar images and ensure their malware gets into your system when you start using a particular app in the mobile or a plugin in your browser. Good antivirus software and a strong firewall will prevent such attacks easily.
Email Safety: Apart from the current accounts you are using, your social media might have numerous old accounts with unprotected privacy settings, giving away many of your details. After all, who would have thought a Facebook account or a Yahoo ID created years ago would have password information for crucial data like insurance and bank account details.
Some people write all the passwords in a notepad and store them in their email id for backup reasons. Delete such files immediately. Use a password manager instead to create unique passwords to safely open emails. They will develop hard-to-guess passwords and keep them safe too.
Also, delete every old social media account and the email id no longer in use. If you want to know whether your email security is compromised, use the “Have I Been Pwned” website. Enter your email id, and it will show you whether your data is breached or not.
If it shows ‘breached’, it is better to change the email ID and delete the current account. Always use a dummy email account that comes for free to subscribe to the numerous websites and services. Use a secure, paid email account for work, finance, and insurance-related transactions to stay safe.
Declutter your inbox often using services like “10-minute mail,” which will automatically delete unwanted subscription emails after a specific time. Make it a habit not to open attachments from strangers.
Check the Identity
Be very careful when you share your details online and offline. Avoid giving your email id to anybody and everybody who asks for it. Check whether the person you’re communicating with online is genuine using Nuwber. Do that before sharing your email id with them, befriending them on social media, or following them on Twitter.
Protecting your digital self from cyberattacks is relatively easy if you invest wisely in well-functioning antivirus and firewall software. Paying attention to careful email usage by deleting old accounts, using a password manager and decluttering emails regularly will help stay safe. Be cautious when you open attachments from strangers and share your work email details with them. Share your details only with legitimate people after cross checking their identity through online databases. A stitch in time saves nine, and being careful will never hurt, especially instead of trying hard to prove your innocence after being affected.