Spring is traditionally a time when people do a deep cleaning of their homes. Have you thought about taking this one step further and doing a digital security deep clean? We recommend reviewing at least every quarter to minimize the risk of identity theft. Here are four steps to get you started to protect your personal data.
- Change your passwords. Your company probably automatically asks you to switch passwords every 4-6 weeks. But when is the last time you changed your passwords on your personal social media accounts, subscriptions, or places you shop? You should consider updating these passwords, too. In fact, old passwords can be easy ways for hackers to steal your identity. Delete old accounts you no longer use. You might be surprised to find that some of those are decades old with easily guessed passwords. When you choose your new passwords, do not repeat them across various accounts. You’re just making it easier to get hacked.
- Review your social media accounts. Have you been cloned on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platforms? Take a moment and search for yourself on these sites and see if you appear more than once. Don’t wait for your friends to send you a text saying, “I just got a friend request from you, but we’re already friends.” If you’ve been cloned, report it and change your passwords.
- Avoid oversharing. Think twice before you overshare information or play a social media game that asks you to list personal information about yourself. These simple activities are ways that hackers gather your data. The latest high-risk trend is sharing a picture of your COVID vaccination record with your full name and date of birth clearly visible. Instead, consider sharing a photo of an “I got vaccinated” sticker.
- Have you been hacked? A cybersecurity FBI agent once told me, “It used to be a case of not if, but when you’ve been hacked. Now it’s a case of you’ve been hacked, and you either know it or don’t know it yet.” HaveIBeenPwned is one of several free sites where you can check if you’ve been caught up in a security breach.
These four steps will help you do a simple yet effective spring cleaning of your digital presence and protect your online identity.