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The Internet has often been called the first truly democrat medium in information gathering and sharing. Indeed, it is a revolutionary idea, one steeped in freedom. But there are costs that come with this freedom, and there are risks as well. Identity theft is a huge problem in this online age, one that doesn’t show signs of abating anytime soon. Therefore people need to always be thinking about how to protect their identity when using the Internet. And like most strategies, the best defense is a good offense.
So with that in mind, here are some steps anyone can undertake to protect their info to the point they likely will not have any issues regarding theft.
Install anti-virus software – and update it regularly
A good piece of software is crucial to defend against Trojan horses and viruses, many of which are looking to steal credit card info and email passwords. That said, updates are constantly being released for these pieces of software in order to keep up with changes on the security landscape. And it’s up to the user to install these updates.
Install a personal firewall
It’s always good to double down on Internet security by adding a personal firewall on top of anti-virus software. This adds extra security against both inbound and outbound attacks. And like anti-virus software, it is important to update the firewall regularly.
Create strong passwords
It’s always tempting to choose an account password that is short and easy to remember. Unfortunately these kinds of easy passwords are targets for those looking to steal a person’s information. The best thing to do is forgo quick and easy passwords for those that are more complex, even if the user needs to write it down in order to remember. It’s also crucial to change all important passwords regularly.
Be skeptical of strange emails
Emails from unknown senders – especially those featuring advertisements or “deals” – should simply not be opened. Oftentimes spammers and thieves will try to get an email opened by offering too-good-to-be-true offers in the subject line, like ads featuring jobs that pay hundreds of dollars a day. Never has the old adage “If it’s sounds too good to be true, it probably is” been more apt than in these kinds of online scenarios.
Check websites’ security locks
Those surfing the web should check the security lock of any site that seems even remotely suspect. Users should verify the site’s authenticity by clicking on the lock icon and ensuring that the address of the site and the certificate do indeed match.
Limit dissemination of personal info
Especially on social media sites, as this is where most online criminals do their dirty work. It may be difficult in this day and age not to divulge a lot of personal tidbits on sites like Facebook and Twitter, but failing to curb habits such as these could lead to theft.
If people take anything away from the above list, it should be the notion of diligence. Because while security software is all well and good, it is only as effective as how often it is updated. Those who truly value their privacy and personal data security will do well to update all online security measures regularly.