Just as you take the time to ensure you’re living your healthiest offline life, it’s important to incorporate some healthy cybersecurity habits when you’re interacting with the virtual realm. Whether you’re banking, chatting, scrolling social media, gaming online or shopping, there are several things to keep in mind.
Before we dig in, it’s worth refreshing your memory about personal identifiable information (PII). What is it? How much can you control it? Should you be concerned?
Defining personal identifiable information
PII is information that is specific to you. It’s your personal information. It is any information that will allow your identity to be directly or indirectly informed. It’s most often information that you don’t want to be lingering out in the virtual realm.
Some of this information could include the following.
- Social security number
- Driver’s license number
- Passport number
- Alien registration numbers
- Credit or debit card details
- Bank account numbers
- Medical records
- Names of your pets, children, and mother’s maiden name
Any of this information, whether alone or combined, can potentially be used to steal from you. It can also be used to steal your identity. Banking and shopping are just two of the areas of your online life where you share some of your PII. In many cases, there is no need to be concerned, so long as the financial institutes and retailers are taking steps to protect you, your data, and your transactions.
Healthy online habits to get into
There are a few healthy cybersecurity habits that you can adapt to better protect yourself and your PII when you’re spending time in the digital world.
Be sure that all of your online transactions take place on websites that are secured. Secured websites can be identified by an “https” prefix on the URL. The “s” indicates that the website is using what is known as a secure sockets layer certificate (SSL). Secured websites may also display a green padlock icon on the browser location field.
Ensure that the website is a legitimate site before you enter in any personal information. Pay attention to the website’s URL in the browser location field, particularly if you have clicked a link from an email. Imposter websites are a sneaky way to get you to voluntarily share your username, password, and even credit card information.
Check that price
If a price seems too good to be true, it could just be too good to be true! Cybercriminals know that most of us tend to price comparison shop before buying high-value items. They also know that many of us will get excited about discounts, deals, and the potential to get an item for an unheard-of low price.
Check on your debit and credit card transactions daily. Look for unusual charges, even a small charge you don’t recall making. Cybercriminals may initially charge a very low amount to test the validity of your card. Many people wouldn’t notice if their balance decreased just a few dollars. But that small amount gives cybercriminals the knowledge that they have a valid card in hand and empowers them to charge whatever they want to the next time.
Stay up to date
Ensure that your devices are kept up to date with the latest in security fixes. If your device allows you to set auto updates, it can be a good idea to do so. This will make sure you don’t forget to do an update manually.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
If you’re not at home, skip using public Wi-Fi networks. Use your mobile phone network or wait until you’re home before you bank or shop online.
How secure are your passwords? Be sure that you’re not using the same password across multiple platforms. Change your passwords every few months, just to be on the safe side.
Where possible, opt for highly secure passwordless options to help give you the cybersecurity protection you deserve.
If you’re gaming, take care not to click on messages from unrecognized sources. Just like phishing emails, messages inside of some games can potentially trigger malicious downloads and other cybersecurity concerns.
There are so many great conveniences offered to us through the digital realm that we all rely on. With just a bit of care and extra time, you’ll be able to keep yourself safe, protect your data, and have the best of experiences when shopping, banking, gaming, and more.