Why protecting personal information online is important and how to do it.
Picture yourself walking into a bustling city center. The streets are crowded with people, most of them strangers. Now, would you walk up to each one of them and disclose your full name, home address, bank account details, or family history? Unlikely. However, when we’re online, we sometimes do the digital equivalent of this without realizing the potential consequences. Hence, protecting personal information online is essential.
Why should we be concerned? Your personal information, like puzzle pieces, can be pieced together to form a clear picture of your identity. In the wrong hands, it can lead to identity theft, fraud, or personal harm. According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2020, there were about 1.4 million reports of identity theft, double the number from 2019 (1).
So how do we go about ensuring the safety of our personal information online? Think of it like securing your house against burglars. You wouldn’t leave your doors wide open, would you?
First, you need to recognize what your ‘doors’ are online. These are your passwords. A strong, unique password acts like a robust lock. Consider using a password manager, a virtual keychain that can generate and store complex passwords for you. It’s like having a personal security guard managing your keys.
Next, just like you wouldn’t put all your valuable items on display for everyone to see, be cautious about what personal information you share online. That selfie at your new home with the address clearly visible, or the post about your mother’s maiden name – these might seem innocuous but can be puzzle pieces for a cybercriminal.
Sometimes, even with a sturdy lock, burglars might find a way. That’s where a good alarm system, like two-factor authentication (2FA), comes in. It adds an extra layer of security by requiring another form of identification besides your password. This could be a fingerprint, a unique code sent to your phone, or even a physical key.
Finally, just as you trust a security company to monitor your house, trust reliable security software to protect your online activities. Regularly update your software and devices as these updates often include important security enhancements.
Remember, in our digital city, vigilance is key. But with a little effort, you can enjoy the convenience of the online world without compromising your personal safety.
(1) Federal Trade Commission. “Identity Theft”. FTC’s Consumer Information, 2021. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft