Defend your data: Here’s how to protect your identity online

Discover essential measures to protect your identity online, ensuring a safer digital experience.

Engaging online involves a degree of risk. Whether you’re accessing information, interacting with a company or buying a product or service, your data’s being stored and maybe shared with others.

It can be exploited by cybercriminals, so protecting your identity online is crucial and you should take proactive measures to do so.

Protecting your online identity

Here’s how to limit the exposure of your information online to deter cybercriminals.

1. Deactivate old e-mails, social media

Although you may not access your old e-mail address or social media account, your financial or personal information may still be stored in it.

If there’s a security breach on one of those sites, your information could be used against you.

Deactivate or delete old accounts you no longer use by going into the account settings and looking for a deactivation or closure option.

2. Privacy settings

Privacy and security settings change frequently depending on the platform you’re using.

For example, Facebook and Instagram regularly update their platforms with new functionality which can mean new avenues for exploitation.

Review your privacy settings regularly and make necessary adjustments.

3. Disable online location tracking

The ability to receive location-based suggestions when looking for local companies is convenient, but this functionality means your whereabouts can be tracked when you have your phone with you.

Be aware of the apps and services that have access to your location and ensure they’re only enabled when you’re using the service.

4. Update software regularly

Maintain the most recent versions of your operating system, web browser and other software as these software updates frequently come with security patches that fix flaws and guard against well-known exploits.

Make sure you have the most recent security patches by enabling automatic updates or doing so manually.

5. Know the company

Any company you deal with online and with whom you share your data should be reputable and trustworthy.

So read privacy declarations, use secure platforms and ensure the company complies with industry data protection standards before you commit your data to them.

6. Unsubscribe from email lists

As mailing lists accumulate over time, the chances that your data can be exposed to criminals increases.

Start unsubscribing from mailing lists you’re no longer interested in. This can reduce your digital footprint.

7. Use 2-factor authentication

Many sites and apps are adopting two-factor authentication which makes it harder for cybercriminals to gain access to your information, even if they have your password.

This second verification step is usually done through a text message, e-mail or authentication app in addition to your password.

Vic Esterhuizen is a senior manager at Xpert Decision Systems (XDS)

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