Cyber-crime is becoming a more prevalent problem every year in the United States. This is because much of what used to be performed in face to face interactions is now done online. For example, you probably did most of your holiday shopping last year while sitting down at your computer. Criminals are well aware of the type of information you are providing websites with and are taking greater efforts to access that information.
With so much risk attributed to the internet, it is essential to take necessary precautions. In addition to heavy duty network security programs, or encrypting data before emailing sensitive information, there are simple steps you can take to make sure criminals can't steal sensitive information. Consider some of the following:
Use Privacy SettingsSocial media sites allow you to choose how private you want your profile to be. It is smart to only allow people you know and trust to view your social media sites. Identity thieves will often study someone's Facebook or Twitter account to help them take on your identity
Don't Use Personal Information on Social MediaIn addition to making your social media private, don't put potentially sensitive information about yourself on it. Even a birthday can give a cyber-criminal clues to a password or verification question on your bank account's website. While it seems harmless, it might be a good idea to leave that information out. Your family and friends should know your birthday anyways.
Use Several Usernames and PasswordsDon't use the same password for your Facebook and bank account. Criminals use algorithms to figure out passwords. If they do happen to figure one out, they still won't be able to access information from all your accounts. Also change your passwords frequently for an added layer of protection. Don't make your passwords obvious either.
Be Cautious of Foreign Facebook AppsApps have the potential to access a lot of personal information. Some of these apps are specifically designed to take your information and sell it to criminals. Be cautious of which apps you buy and what country the app is from. You are likely to be safer with apps made in developed countries like the United States.
Don't Trust Public ComputersDon't use public computers, like those in libraries or internet cafes, for sensitive financial transactions. That information could be stolen through the network. If you do use public computers, make sure to log out when you leave. If you don't, people can trace your history or log into your accounts.
Lock Your PhonePeople who use smart phones are more likely to have information stolen. Have a lock or password on your screen. Don't leave passwords up on important websites. You have a lot of important information travelling around with you in your pocket. If your information isn't properly secured and you lose or misplace your phone, you could be in serious trouble.
Close Old AccountsIt is always a good idea to reduce your digital footprint. For example, if you no longer use certain social media sites, delete them. The less information you have about yourself on the internet, the harder it will be for identity thieves to trace you.
Keep An Eye on Your AccountsOnce criminals access your information they will make purchases with your credit card. Review your finances frequently to make sure there aren't any unaccounted for transactions. If you do notice any, report them immediately to your bank so you don't lose any more money.
You can never be too careful when it comes to protecting yourself and your family from hackers, identity thieves, and other cyber threats. Your virtual security is extremely important, and can keep you from becoming a victim of not so virtual crimes.
About the Author: Rick Delgado is a freelance writer who specializes in the latest advancements in technology and gadgets, and is an expert in preventing online fraud.