In today’s digital environment, we trust a lot of information to our digital devices. But, did you know that 25% of identity thieves scam or hack their victims online to get their personal information? That’s why it’s important to recognize the warning signs of a popular scams and to take time regularly to make sure that your devices and information are well protected and secure in order to protect yourself and your digital identity.
So, while you’re taking time to spring clean your email account or digital files, also set aside some time to tidy up and secure your digital presence using these five tips:
1) Update Your Devices – Whether you’re a PC or Mac user, it’s important to make sure your digital devices are running the most recent, secure versions of operating systems. One important area that updates cover is security issues, so if you haven’t installed updates recently, take a few moments to do so.
2) Update Your Browser – Many digital scams take advantage of flaws and holes in outdated Internet browsers to install spyware and malware onto your computer to steal your personal data. So, make sure you’re running the most recent version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or your preferred browser.
3) Create Secure Passwords – Most people (about 77%) have five or more digital accounts that require passwords, and about 35% have 10 or more, according to a recent study. That’s a lot of passwords to keep track of!
Perhaps that’s why the same study showed that nearly 75% of people use the same passwords across their social networks and their email accounts. Though it may seem harmless, it’s important to make sure your accounts all have unique passwords, especially your email address and banking passwords. So, try these tips to create more secure passwords for all your accounts:
- Longer is better: Aim for 8-10 characters in each password.
- Avoid using real words within your password.
- Avoid using special dates, names, or other information you have posted about yourself anywhere online in your password.
- Use numbers, letters and special characters to create a mneumonic password acronym you can easily remember for each site. For example, a Twitter password mneumonic might look like this: I Love Twitter! 4 Ever And Ever Every Day, and the password would like like this: ilt!4eaeeD
4) Update Security Questions – Do you share information about yourself online? Are you one to participate in memes and getting-to-know you games on Facebook or Twitter, sharing details like where you went to middle school or what your favorite color is? If so, be careful when creating answers to security questions for important digital assets, like bank and email accounts, not to use information you’ve posted publicly elsewhere online.
You might have a great password, but if you’re securing your account with the name of the city you were born in and you’ve proudly posted that information online, your digital security may be at risk. If the cat’s out of the bag and you’ve already posted those personal details about yourself online (or it’s been posted by someone else), then update your security questions with information you know isn't posted anywhere online.
5) Remove Unused Social Media Apps – When is the last time you logged into your personal Facebook profile or Twitter account to see what apps you’ve given access to your account? If there are any apps you haven’t used in a while, or those that look suspect, you can remove them.
Facebook: Go to the Manage Facebook Apps Page, which will list apps authorized to your account starting with the most recent at the top. Start at the bottom, with the oldest apps first, and work your way up, deleting any you do not use. You can also edit the settings for any app on this page to control what information the app knows about you. Not all authorizations are required in order to use an app, so make sure you’re comfortable with what each App knows about you (but keep in mind, changing your authorizations may affect whether or how the app functions).
Twitter: Under Settings > Connections, you can control which apps have access to your Twitter account.
By using these simple spring cleaning tips, you can help secure your digital presence and protect yourself from scams.
Do you have any tips for maintaining your digital security or keeping your passwords updated and secure? Share with us in the comments!
About the Author
Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and small business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.