Editor’s Question: What steps should you take to prevent your digital identity being stolen?
Submission by John McLoughlin, Managing Director, J2 Software.
As we live in a globally connected world, almost all our personal information – a virtual expose of our lives – exists online and we need to ensure that our digital identities are protected in the same way that we care for ourselves and our physical property.
Here are a few practical tips to help you keep your digital identify safe.
- Passwords: The world still relies on passwords for security. Please make sure that your password is not easy to guess, it must not be your name and do not include your birthdate. You do need to ensure that you do not use the same password for every online portal and wherever possible, use two-factor authentication
- Anti-virus and applications: While Anti-virus struggles to identify many modern threats, it is still important to ensure it is running, up-to-date and has the latest updates at all times. The same must be applied to your applications, whether they are PDF readers, Java or Office applications, you need to ensure they are patched and up to date to prevent exploits
- Always check your security and privacy settings: On every online platform on which you engage, you need to be careful to keep your security settings up-to date. Check these settings regularly to guarantee that your information and identity is secure
- Think before you post: Before you put anything online, think about whether you are comfortable having that information in the hands of a stranger. Share personal, company and family information only with those who need to know about it. Telling the whole world that you are on holiday and out of the office can give a cybercriminal the opportunity to trick your colleagues into falling for a cyberattack. Consider everything that you post is public, do they really need to know?
- Get rid of your friends: Ok, not the real ones. Make sure you do regular reviews of your connections and friends. If you do not know them, cull them.
- Stranger danger: If you do not know the person you are speaking with, approach with caution. Do not click on their links and do not open their attachments. It takes a few seconds to do some verification. A few seconds can save you tens of thousands.
- Monitor everything: Whenever there is a deviation or an anomaly, investigate. Nothing is 100% guaranteed and you need monitor in order to identify problems. Look out for strange activity on your bank statements. Ensure you can see strange behaviour across your network. A sudden change is a good indicator of compromise.
- Use common sense: If you did not enter a competition or have never been to Italy, you did not win their lottery. As exciting as it seems, there is nothing in this world that is free. Obviously, never tell strangers your identity number or bank pin codes.
- It is not just about the company: We see too many compromised businesses because they do not monitor behaviour of all connected equipment. Your email security platform may be great for corporate email. This does not help if your user is compromised through their free email service, accessed from their work PC.
- Talk about it: The biggest contributor to rising cybercrime statistics is ignorance. People are generally not taught what to look out for. Users are not engaged in awareness campaigns and do not understand technical jargon. Conversation and awareness training is required for the technology users and in a manner they can relate to and understand. Above all never stop monitoring, responding, adapting and improving.