Tips for Strengthening Your Personal Account Security
A Kickoff to Cybersecurity Awareness Month
With data breaches and online scams happening more frequently, it’s important for all of us to be vigilant about protecting our personal information online. For Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I want to share some best practices for keeping your online accounts secure and avoiding identity theft.
Create Strong, Unique Passwords
One of the most basic but critical steps for account security is using strong, unique passwords for all your important online accounts. Avoid common words or phrases, use a mix of letters, numbers and symbols, and make sure you’re not reusing passwords across accounts. If remembering many complex passwords is an issue, use a password manager app to store them securely. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible as an extra layer of security beyond just a password.
Beware of Phishing Scams
Cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated at creating fake websites and emails that try to steal your login credentials or personal information through phishing. Slow down and check that web URLs are legitimate and look for subtle spelling differences or errors. Be suspicious of any unexpected emails asking you to verify personal information or reset your password. Avoid clicking links or opening attachments from unknown senders.
Check Your Privacy Settings
Review the account settings and privacy options for your social media profiles and other online accounts. Make sure you’re limiting access to personal information like your birthday, address and phone number only to people you know. Turn off location sharing if not needed. Be selective about what personal details you post publicly online, as fraudsters can piece together information from multiple sources.
Monitor Your Accounts and Credit Reports
Keep a close eye on bank and credit card statements to spot any unauthorized charges right away. Set up transaction alerts for big purchases. Request fraud alerts and check your credit report frequently to catch any signs of identity theft early. Consider credit freezes or locks if you’re very concerned about identity theft risks.
Being proactive about prevention will allow you the peace of mind while you’re enjoying the many conveniences the modern Web provides. Bottom line: It’s up to you to protect yourself from exposure. Don’t wait until it’s too late.