Today’s world is so ingrained with technology, it’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t rely on it for nearly every aspect of our lives. Most technology these days is conveniently connected to the internet, making it easier to access everything we need. We use it at our jobs and in our personal lives, and all of our personal information is connected to it. This unfortunately has led to a rise in crime; cybercrime to be exact. The modern thief has the entire internet as their playground, and we might just be sitting ducks waiting for the day when find out our information has been hacked and stolen. If you think you are safe, think again: take steps to protect yourself and your personal information.
Become more anonymous
Most people ages 13 and up have some form of social media. Facebook, twitter, instagram and other sites and apps tend to be a daily check in with people, and therefore are just bursting with personal information. Facebook is probably the best source for cybercriminals to find out just about everything about you. Your full name, workplace, and (probably) a daily update to where you are and what you do is available to anyone who can access your profile. Protect yourself on social media by utilizing the privacy settings to only allow access to people you know personally, being mindful of what you post, and minimizing the amount of personal details you share. Don’t add people you don’t know personally; if someone you have never met and has no mutual friends with you randomly sends you a friend request, chances are it’s someone looking for personal information. Also, keep your eye out for scams. A good rule of thumb is if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The store that is giving away $100 gift cards on an affiliate site to the first 100 people to send in their full name, address, and phone number is probably not aware that some scammers are offering that.
Credit cards and credit information are common targets for cybercriminals. With more and more people turning to online shopping, it’s getting easier for them to find and access the sensitive information they need to steal identities and use others cards. There are many ways to stay safe while online shopping. Be sure to check the URL you are using; the URL should read ‘https.” The S stands for secure network. Shop with known and trusted sites, and if you find an online store you are unfamiliar with, be sure to research it thoroughly before you shop. When you create an account with an online shops, never save your credit card information on those sites, even if you regularly buy from them. A data breach, or even just someone discovering access to your account, could result in that information being available and usable, so take the extra minute or so it takes to enter that information every time you shop online. Also, never shop on public Wi-Fi and always keep your home Wi-Fi secure with a unique password.
Along with online, be aware of your credit card safety offline as well. Huge data breaches have happened with big retailers, and customer payment information was compromised. There are also devices that can read the magnetic strips on credit and debit cards. Recently, steps are being taken to make card information harder to decipher. Chip card technology is now being gradually released into the market. It is much more secure and difficult to decrypt than the current magnetic strip system that cards use. Retail stores are installing card readers that read both magnetic strip and chips, and will eventually be strictly chip readers. If you have yet to receive a new card with a chip, be sure to enquire with your bank or credit card company if you don’t want to wait for your current card to expire.
The home computer is the holy grail of personal information, yet often is something overlooked by people. So many people do their taxes on their computers, store their accounts and passwords, and keep records of important documents, but don’t always think about how safe that information is. It is important that you have up to date and active security on your computer. You can use the security that comes installed on your computer and activate it once the initial trial is over, or you can buy and install a new one. Be sure to research and compare different types of security software to find the right program for your needs. If you are a casual computer user, a basic program is probably all you need. If your entire life and work is on your computer, you might want to look into something a little more advanced.
Businesses should be extra vigilant about cybersecurity. With all the sensitive data and information big businesses have, they are always going to be targets for cybercrime. According to an article by Washington State University, taking cyber security seriously and getting proper protection for your business is cheaper than the cost of being a cybercrime victim. The costs involved in recovering from a data breach are not only astronomical monetarily, but it’s going to cost your company its trade secrets and its reputation. Customers and clients aren’t going to trust a company that lost all of their private and important information, so taking your security seriously is vital to the livelihood of your company.
Protecting yourself from cybercrime is as important these days as protecting yourself from any other crime. Taking precautions is the best way to keep yourself from becoming a victim and keeping your information safe.