In today’s interconnected tech-driven industries, computer security has become a huge priority. It may have once been considered merely an afterthought for businesses and users but has quickly grown in prominence.
Malicious attacks can cause massive devastation, compromising important parts of how systems have been built to run. According to a report issued by Javelin Strategy and Research, 14.4 million people fell victim to identity fraud in 2018 alone!
If you haven’t experienced it for yourself, you might know someone who’s fallen victim to it. Even Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter, was not exempted from such a risk, with hackers using a SIM-swap technique to infiltrate his phone. Cybercriminals have targeted personal bank accounts, as well as company databases. It’s time that you try and stop yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. Here are a few simple steps you can take in order to stay protected.
1. Practice Basic Online Safety
If you’re accessing a public computer, don’t shop online or fill in details containing sensitive information. This goes for devices with unsecured Wi-Fi too. Hackers may be lurking just beneath the surface, between the user and the unstable internet connection. Passwords, credit card information and sensitive identifiers can be stolen from a user as the data gets sent out.
2. Update Your Security Software
If you are using your home or office machine, consistently update your security software. Firewalls and antivirus systems make up the first line of defence when it comes to digital crime. If you are surfing online or if you’re an avid online shopper, only visit reputable retail sites. Phishers and identity thieves often set up fake sites that prompt you to key in your personal details. Sometimes, these sites can even resemble real and reputable sites. Check that the “https” line is included before the URL (just in case). Also, be careful when downloading apps and files. Check that they’re from reputable sources because hackers might rig them with malware that infects your device and let them gain access to it.
3. Use Stronger Authentication Measures
Strong passwords and additional authentication can go a long way toward reinforcing online identity security. Practising using different passwords for your online accounts could help. Even if it gets a little difficult to manage all the passwords to every site and system you signed up for, it can be well worth the added protection. There are password managers available that help to ensure your credentials aren’t forgotten and aren’t stolen. Password less authentication has also been reinforced with newer standards such as FIDO2, to help strengthen account security without complexity of password management.
Basic passwords aren’t the only form of protection these days. Multiple authentication methods can really help keep your identity secure. You can get a one-time use code sent to your phone before logging into your account from a new device. In some scenarios, biometric authentication (like face or fingerprint scans) can increase your level of protection. Google also offers a 2-Step Verification measure for added security, so users can protect their accounts via passwords and their mobile devices. Essentially, you sign in to Google with a password as usual, then a code is sent to your phone via text, mobile app or voice call.
4. Be Careful of Scam Calls and Emails
In their search for gullible victims to prey on, it seems that scammers are still up to their same old tricks in many parts of the world. Emails and phone calls play a part in identity theft, so be aware. If you get unsolicited emails and unexpected calls about offers that are too good to be true, they often are. Scammers might promise limited-time deals and other exciting promotions to get people to give up their personal details. A scammer might pose as a representative of a bank to get your credit card number or other financial information. You should think about never giving any of your details over the phone or through email, even if a person claims he/she is from a legit establishment.
5. Don't be Careless with Physical Documents
Aside from being cautious online, secure your physical documentation containing sensitive information as best as you can. This is likely one of the oldest identity theft tricks in the book since a lot of sensitive financial information can be printed on documents which are mailed to you from banks. If you can, check that your mailbox is locked, and don’t allow strangers to pick up your mail for you. If you have documents that contain financial details lying around your home or in your office, consider compiling them and locking them away in a secure place.
Hackers on the prowl are always looking for ways to attack companies and personal users, however, it's not all bad news. If you've been keeping up with eKYC (electronic know-your-customer) news and cybersecurity developments, you probably know that there are plenty of integrated components out there. eKYC technology helps end-users with better personal data privacy and protection by eliminating the need for middlemen to handle your physical identity document (e.g. producing photocopies). These developments can also help businesses facilitate customer journeys seamlessly and safely. Security-related tech is advancing and, while cybercriminals refine their methods of stealing our data, it's important that we fight back and keep safe.