The lockdowns enforced worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic have increased people’s social media presence more than ever. Though social media is an excellent way to stay updated with your friends and family’s lives, its rise in popularity has led to increased cybersecurity threats, primarily digital identity theft.
To prevent our identity from being misused or ending up in the wrong hands, we can follow ten simple steps:
1. Always Check the Fine Print
Be wary of what permissions you grant to social media apps as often it is a tool used by them to track your behavior. Social media apps even ask for access to your contacts list without having a necessity. Therefore, it is essential to always check the fine print.
2. Use a Password Manager
Use a password management tool as these tools help store all your passwords in one place and construct strong, unique passwords so that your other accounts will not be compromised should one password be obtained.
3. Create Multiple Online Identities
Separate your work email from your personal email when signing up for things online. For official registrations, your primary email account should be used. For personal things, use your personal email address. For social media, a third email address should be adopted.
4. Use Passphrases, Not Passwords
Passphrases are a bunch of random numbers, letters, and characters that cannot be easily identified. Using them prevents your passwords from being easily determined from your online profile. Use different passphrases for each website and use a password management tool to help you remember them.
5. Enable Two Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a secure way to log in to your account, as you will have to verify your account in two different ways, usually a password and a pin sent to your mobile. It is the best way to protect your digital identity.
6. Avoid Public WiFi
Free public WiFis represent a massive cybersecurity threat to the user as there is a chance your digital footprint can be easily monitored. If necessary, use a Virtual Proxy Network (VPN) when you connect to these WiFis. Do not do anything which involves revealing your personal information in these networks.
7. Be Careful Who You Trust
The direct message feature on social media apps is not as secure as expected. There has been a rise in attacks in which links are sent in DMs, and if the user clicks on it, they will fall victim to phishing attacks, leading to identity theft.
8. Be Careful With Your Personal Data
When allowing websites to store your data, be very vigilant as they make money from it by selling it to other vendors. Do not allow online shopping websites to keep your credit/debit card information and check the fine print to see what they intend to do with your data.
9.Think Before Clicking on Links
Whenever you receive an official service email, ensure authenticity by checking the email address as scammers draft seemingly official emails to trick you into providing personal information or making unsolicited payments to them.
10. Upgrade to Paid Versions
Consider using the premium version of an app or service as most free versions collect your personal information. Companies often use this data to improve user experience; however, some service providers will use this information for marketing reasons and share/sell them with other vendors.