Ready for some spring cleaning — of your digital life? On April 13, the first-ever Identity Management Day provides the perfect opportunity for tidying things up online.
Sponsored by two nonprofit groups — the Identity Defined Security Alliance and the National Cyber Security Alliance — the campaign is all about inspiring business leaders and consumers to step up their privacy practices.
Here at Allstate Identity Protection, that’s a mission we can get behind. In support of the inaugural event, we’re sharing five things you can do today to strengthen your digital defenses. Join us by checking a few things off your privacy to-do list — and bonus points for encouraging friends and colleagues to do the same.
Let’s work together to #BeIdentitySmart!
Set strong passwords — and use multiple factors
Secure passwords are key to staying safe online.
You probably already know that it’s not a good idea to recycle existing passwords, or to use easy-to-guess personal details, like your maiden name or birthday.
Still, according to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, as many as 81% of hacking-related breaches leverage weak, stolen or otherwise compromised passwords. In many cases, criminals don’t need high-tech hacking methods — they simply log in using knowledge of the victim's credentials.
When it comes to setting strong passwords, we advise aiming for something long, complicated, and totally unique. The easiest way to accomplish this is with a password manager.
Whenever possible, it’s smart to also use multi-factor authentication. That way you’ll be protected by a password and an additional verification method, such as biometrics or a one-time code sent to your smartphone or email. The second layer of protection makes it that much harder for a criminal to pose as you — and that’s a very good thing.
Update your software
Software updates help your devices run more smoothly and improve user experience. Perhaps most importantly, they also fix known security flaws.
Unfortunately, out-of-date software may contain vulnerabilities that criminals can manipulate, leaving you open to cyberattacks and malware infection.
When your devices ping you about security updates, install them right away — or set up automatic updates. This goes for any device that connects to the internet: computers, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and more.
Be wary of scams
The pandemic has been a challenging time for many of us — but for identity thieves, it’s been a good year.
According to Javelin’s 2021 Identity Fraud Study, 39 million people fell victim to identity fraud scams in 2020, with criminals vacuuming up $43 billion in losses.
Being aware of the rise in scams — and maintaining a healthy skepticism — is the first step to protecting yourself.
It’s also smart to stay vigilant for signs of phishing, such as:
- Blurry images or logos
- Frequent typos
- Urgent calls for action (“Click now, or your account may be deleted”)
- Misspelled email addresses
- Misleading URLs (hover your mouse over the link to see its true destination)
- Requests for sending funds via wire transfer
Be mindful on social
We’ve written before about how little shares can equal big reveals.
Take a few minutes to consider what you’ve shared on social and how it may affect the security of your identity.
When personal information becomes publicly available, it can be used by criminals to guess your passwords, craft highly targeted phishing attacks, or simply figure out when you’re not at home.
Sometimes it’s better to say less and share later — like, say, after you’ve returned from a vacation.
Delete apps you’re not using
Each time you download an app, you may be giving away more of your personal information than you realize.
From there, the app developers may share your data with third parties, such as advertisers or payment processors, either for profit or to improve user experience.
Whenever an app, site, or advertiser who is storing your data is breached, it further erodes your privacy. That’s why it’s a good idea to delete apps you don’t actively use. Or, if you use an online service infrequently, consider deleting the app and using the browser version instead.
Help spread the word
High five for taking a few minutes to protect yourself online!
Want to do even more? Share these tips with loved ones so they can do the same, and visit the event site for additional tips and resources.
Happy #IDMgmtDay, everybody!