How to protect your personal data online
Did you know that the average person touches their phone 2,617 times per day? As some of the biggest online users in the world, Canadians visit more sites and spend more time on the internet than people from any other country. But how savvy are we when it comes to online privacy? Within the last 24 hours, think about the number of times you’ve checked your bank account through an app, visited social platforms, sent or read an email, downloaded or shared a file, or shopped online. While we typically don’t give these behaviours a second thought, it’s important to realize that everything we do online puts us at risk of exposing our data security to things like leaks, online scams, identity theft, credit card fraud, and more.
Most of us don’t think about online privacy until we’ve been personally affected. But considering all the time we spend on our computers or smartphones, a few precautions can go a long way to protect you and your family. Read our personal data security tips below and check out my Identity, which offers insurance protection against identity theft and cyberattacks, a 24/7 legal information service and more.
1. Use passwords that pass our privacy test
What’s the number one thing you can do to improve your online security? Create unique passwords and change them regularly. That means no more using your birthday as a password (same goes for your pet’s name). Sure, having to create new passwords for multiple sites can be a real hassle, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the suggestions below to make passwords that are safe and secure.
- Make your password at least eight characters long.
- Use a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.
- Technically, you can still use your pet’s name, your lucky numbers or the street you grew up on, but what would really be effective would be to make your password a mix of all these things (keeping in mind the rules mentioned above, of course).
Want to kick it up a notch? Unique passwords and my Identity, are a killer combo for protecting your personal data against cybersecurity breaches and cyberattacks.
2. Only provide essential personal data
Big companies fall victim to cyberattacks all the time, and if you make online transactions, your personal data could be included in a future leak. Only provide what’s essential to make a transaction, such as your address and credit card information if you shop online (better yet, use an online payment system rather than sharing your credit card number on multiple sites). A good rule of thumb is to only provide information in fields marked with an asterisk (*) and skip any optional fields.
3. Password-protect your devices
If you wouldn’t leave your house unlocked, you shouldn’t leave your phone, tablet or computer without protection either. The nuisance of having to unlock your device with a verification method (typing in a password, scanning your fingerprint, tracing a pattern, etc.) each time you want to use it doesn’t seem so bad compared to the cost of having your personal information, such as photos and credit card information, in the wrong hands.
If things ever do end up in the wrong hands, access to my Identity 24-hour legal information telephone line can save you a lot of hassle and headaches.
4. Learn to recognize phishing scams
Phishing scams impersonate legitimate organizations to trick people into giving out their personal information, and they’re getting harder to recognize all the time. Your best defence is to be suspicious of any email that asks you to enter or verify your personal information. If you’re not sure, exit your email and log into your account directly through the company website. Or pick up the phone and call the company directly. And remember to never click a link in a suspicious email.
In a nutshell: be proactive with personal data privacy
When it comes down to it, cyberattacks are most often just an inconvenience (having to order new credit cards, for example), however, serious online threats do exist. Educating yourself on safe online practices allows you to stay one step ahead of cyberattacks, and additional coverage through my Identity can help you get back on your feet quickly in the event of more serious incidents.