Are you an online oversharer? Do you give your full birthday to all your online shopping accounts? Have a few companies you have accounts with been breached but you didn’t take any action at the time? If you have bad digital habits, now is an excellent time to reset your digital presence.
In isolation, these small digital transgressions don’t seem like a problem; however, cybercriminals can gather the bits and pieces of information you release into the world and Frankenstein them together to create believable impersonations or entirely new identities.
To protect your identity, here are a few ways to limit the amount of personally identifiable information (PII) you share online, plus a few tools that can help you identify and close your current security holes.
Bad Online Habits That Put Your PII at Risk
Most digital bad habits seem insignificant; however, the more bad habits you have that pile-up, the more at risk your PII and your identity can be. Check out this list of three common habits that you should consider breaking today and why.
1. Volunteering too much information.
When you sign up for new online shopping accounts, some companies ask for your birthday, your age, your middle name, and primary and secondary phone numbers and email addresses. While it might be nice to receive a special coupon on your birthday, you may want to reconsider volunteering unnecessary private details. To compromise you can sign up with a nickname and leave your birth year blank. That way, if a cybergang ever breaches the company, the criminals won’t get far with your personal details. To steal an identity and ruin someone’s credit, sometimes all it takes it a full name, birthday, and phone number.
2. Oversharing on social media.
Do you post your every thought and movement on social media? While curating the perfect online profile can be fun, it can also be dangerous to your online safety. For instance, posting “get to know you” quizzes are a gold mine for social engineers and cyber criminals, as the results often reveal potential password inspiration, security question answers, and your likes and dislikes. From here, criminals can take educated guesses at your passwords or tailor a social engineering scheme that’s most likely to fool you. Consider setting your social media profiles to private and blocking followers you don’t know personally. Or, just keep parts of your life a mystery to the wider world.
3. Reusing passwords.
We can all agree that increasingly strict password requirements are leading to longer and more complex passwords that are confusing to cyber criminals and to the rightful account holders, too! It’s tempting to reuse passwords to reduce the burden on your memory, but this puts your valuable PII in danger. Password and username combinations are often information that’s leaked in company breaches. In what’s called a brute force attack, a cybercriminal can plug that same pairing into hundreds of websites and wait for a hit. Since unique passwords for all your dozens of accounts is imperative, entrust their safekeeping to a password manager.
Grade Your Online Safety With McAfee Protection Score
If you’re feeling uneasy about your online habits and the effect they may have had on your online safety, McAfee Protection Score gives you the information you need to take charge and make changes. Protection Score not only tells you how safe (or unsafe) you are, but the tool also offers suggestions on how you can raise your score, and thus be safer online. The service monitors data breaches and indicates when your email was part of a leak. Protection Score also dives into the dark web so you don’t have to. If your government ID or financial information appears, your score will take a large hit.
Protection Score not only tells you how safe (or unsafe) you are, but the tool also offers suggestions on how you can raise your score, and thus be safer online. The sooner you know your weak points, the quicker and more completely you can fortify your defenses and clean up after months (or years) of bad habits. Knowledge is power in the right against cyber criminals, so Protection Score is an excellent partner to help adopt smarter habits on the path to better online security.
Get the Whole Package With McAfee+ Ultimate
With McAfee+ Ultimate, you not only get a Protection Score but a host of other top-rate tools to protect your identity, retain your online privacy, and help you recover from an identity theft. Running an antivirus, connecting to a VPN and installing web protection on your browser are all ways to increase your Protection Score, and these features are available with McAfee’s most thorough privacy, identity, and device protection service.
Make 2023 the year of living online confidently and safely!