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Understanding Your Virtual Identity

clicking on a personProtect yourself from online identity thieves.

Every time we share information, whether with another individual, a business or on a social network, we're taking a risk that the information could be shared with unauthorized persons - whether intentionally shared with a third party, or unintentially in the form of a data breach. 

As a general rule, it's best to keep your sensitive information off the Internet, and only share information with individuals or sites we know and trust. However, as e-commerce, cloud computing and other business is increasingly conducted online, it’s not always such a simple matter to say no. 

So how can individuals conduct business online, while also protecting themselves against threats like identity theft?

Protect Personally Identifiable Information

Social Security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, and more.

Certain types of information are more sensitive than others, but any information that could be used to identify you - such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and other sensitive information that identifies directly with the user - should be used with extreme discretion while on the Internet.

Phishing emails are a common tactic hackers use to gain access to this information. Hackers posing as banking institutions or government agencies send emails requesting “verification” of sensitive information, in an attempt to trick you into sharing this information. But don't be fooled.

You should know that requests like these will typically be handled by mail. They will never be sent via email, and will rarely be handled via phone call unless you've initiated contact. Anytime you receive such a request you should be skeptical and take measures to verify the identity of the person initiating the contact.

Financial Credentials

Credit card numbers, PINs, CSCs, etc.

Financial information is in high demand for hackers, either to use for their own gain, or to sell on the black market. Either way, hackers are actively seeking ways to gain access to this information; it’s your responsibility to make sure they fail.

Our advice is to never store financial credentials locally on your PC. Make sure any site where you enter this information is secured with encryption and a security certificate: look for the "https" in the URL, or the green padlock icon in your browser’s address bar.

Other Sensitive Data

Passwords, usernames, and more.

Login credentials are another common target for hackers, and they’ll use every trick in the book to get their hands on them. Passwords and usernames are required for logging into most of your online accounts. If a hacker gains access to them, they can access your email, social media account, online shopping accounts like Amazon, ride share services like Uber, and many more. Once they gain access they can steal your identity or sensitive data, or make purchases posing as you.

How to protect yourself? Use "strong" or more complex passwords and usernames, and make sure to use a separate one for EVERY account. These, of course, are harder to remember so a password manager like LastPass can help you adhere to this best practice without having to remember or keep track of them all.

Secure Your Identity Today

Don’t let hackers get their way.

As more of our every day business - whether personal or business - is conducted online, it's crucial that you take steps to protect yourself from identity theft. To learn more about how you can protect your identity from online threats, reach out to us at [email protected].

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