Identity theft is a constant and rising concern. The rate of cybercrime has risen dramatically since the outbreak of the pandemic. Identity fraud, for example, grew by nearly 1,600 percent in 2020 alone.
Despite this, many of us continue to make basic cybersecurity errors that leave us vulnerable to identity thieves. Here are the three most prevalent errors and how to avoid them.
1. Public Social Media Profiles
Cybercriminals have ready access to public profiles on social media, therefore, that information is an open door for identity theft. Answers to probable security questions like your mother’s maiden name are all available on a public profile. Therefore, information about personal details such as birthdays is at their fingertips.
Setting your social media profiles to private is the first big step in preventing identity theft. Make certain that just a few people have access to your personal information.
Hackers also have all the tools they need for a spear-phishing assault. This is especially true if they have thorough knowledge about your social relationships. With this information, they can send a phishing email to you individually.
For example, you may receive an email from a “worker” asking you to complete a survey for their birthday celebration. However, the URL you click on actually installs harmful malware on your computer. In addition, fraudsters might use information from public profiles to start new accounts.
2. Using Weak Passwords With No Two-factor Authentication
One of the most common reasons for identity theft is the failure to use strong passwords. Yes, you’ve probably heard this bit of advice before. However, there’s a reason it’s near the top of every fraud-prevention checklist.
The five most frequent passwords, according to the latest statistics, are 123456, qwerty, 123456789, 1234567, and password. All of these passwords are vulnerable almost instantaneously by most hackers, even an amateur with a little spare time. The more complex a password is, the more difficult it is to crack!
A hacker’s program, for example, can instantaneously find out any 7-character lower-case password. Therefore, increase the character count to ten, including lower-case and capital letters, as well as numbers and special characters. When you do these simple things, the same hacking algorithm takes around five years to solve.
Another common cybersecurity error is failing to activate two-factor authentication. This is when you must check an additional security box before you can log into your account. This will stop 100% of bot assaults and 96 percent of automatic phishing attacks.
Despite this, only about 2% of Twitter users and 10% of Google users have 2FA enabled.
3. Not Keeping up With Data Breach or Monitoring
Ignoring everything after a data breach is another one of the most common cybersecurity errors. In some circumstances, you’ll receive an email informing you of the hacking by a corporation that contains your personal information.
People often entrust their personal information to dozens of companies. Yet, after receiving notice of hacking and that data is at risk, the majority do nothing. Many, ironically, don’t even open the message in question, believing it to be spam.
Worse, some don’t even notice a breach right away. It takes an average of 206 days for businesses to notice that hacking has occurred.
Nevertheless, to protect your data, it’s critical to be aware of any hacking activity. Only then can you take the necessary precautions to avoid serious repercussions.
Therefore, check on your data regularly and keep an eye out for data breach warnings. Using services like haveibeenpwned.com is one option. With it, you can verify compromises to your email addresses and track them in any known data breach.
Take things even further by purchasing cybersecurity software that incorporates dark web surveillance. This implies that an algorithm will continuously check the dark web for your personal information. Further, it alerts you if the program sees it in the hands of hackers.
Identity theft can have serious effects on both your personal and financial lives for years to come. Therefore, maintaining vigilance over your data is vital. Defend yourself by altering the settings on your social media profiles, maintaining strong passwords, and keeping track of security breaches.
Image Credit: Ketut Subiyanto; Pexels; Thank you!