In a world where we are frequently hearing about email hacks and online security breaches, it’s hard to know what actions to take to keep your personal information protected. How much risk are you taking by performing simple tasks such as banking, sharing files or using social media? These are all generally safe activities, but naturally, there is some level of risk whenever information is shared over the internet. For that reason, we wanted to share 5 useful tips to help protect you against fraud and increase your overall security online – here they are for you:
1. Change Your Passwords Regularly
Simply changing your passwords often will reduce risk, but you can take it a step further by making your passwords hard to guess (e.g. no dictionary words). If you must use a word, avoid easy-to-guess terms like a spouse or child’s name, and add a number to the end. For example, “pineapple275” is a bit better than plain old “pineapple”. Also, consider using different passwords for different online platforms.
2. Use an Encrypted Internet Connection
If you are accessing the Internet in a public location, best to avoid logging into your online banking, or other platforms while using an unencrypted connection. An example of this would be using the wifi connection at a coffee shop, library or shopping mall without knowing how secure the connection really is.
3. Minimize Sharing Certain Details on Social Media
Refrain from adding details like your birthday or middle name to social media profiles such as Facebook, as this can aid in identify theft. While it may differentiate you from other people, it could help imposters obtain your personal details. Also best to avoid posting travel plans ahead of time, as this tells others when you will be away (leaving an empty house behind). Instead, consider waiting to post vacation photos after your return.
4. Maximize All Privacy Settings
As tempting as it may be to save your password on the login pages of your online accounts, it’s better to not take this shortcut – logging in each time will help keep others out. On social media, you can’t always rely on the default settings being set to the proper level. For that reason, you should make a point to check these settings regularly to ensure they are at the highest level. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep your social media sharing to your connections only, not the general public, and deleting or ignoring invitations to connect with people you don’t know.
5. Don’t Click on Mysterious Links
If you receive an email encouraging you to click on a link to see a video or claim some sort of reward, refrain from clicking on it. Although the sender may appear to be a personal friend or other contact, it’s possible that their email account has been hacked. Unless you are certain it’s a personal message directed specifically at you, and the link is from a valid source – deleting it right away is a wise course of action. This applies to anything that claims to be from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or other government sources, as they typically don’t communicate by email. If you can’t tell if something is genuine or not, there is no harm in playing it safe by calling the apparent sender.
We hope these tips act as helpful suggestions for keeping your personal information safe. Please note, this is one message you can safely pass along to your friends and family so they too can increase their security online!
The Wooding Group at CIBC Wood Gundy, (780) 498-5047