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CyberSecurity 101: Protecting Your Online Information

CyberSecurity 101Reading Time: 3 minutes

With the rise of the information age, social media, and ever-growing technology innovation, education about cybersecurity and how to protect your personal information is eminently beneficial for everyone that uses the internet.

Large corporations spend billions of dollars each year on cybersecurity software and services to avoid a cyber hack and ensure the protection of important and confidential customer information. Although many corporations are doing their best to protect the information of their consumers, it is always a good idea for individuals to learn about the different types of fraud on the internet and how they can take their own precautions to protect their online information.

Personal Information Protection

One of the main reasons cybersecurity education for individuals is so important is because it’s preventative. Unfortunately, personal privacy is no longer an intrinsic right. It’s important for us to understand why our online behaviors might lead to an invasion of our personal privacy, and how we can change certain online behaviors to protect our personal data and information.

  • The Problem

    Protecting your personal information that is shared online is extremely important.

    There is certain personal information that makes one easily identifiable. This type of information includes your name, physical home address, email information, phone numbers, date of birth, and plenty more. This information is vulnerable and can be hacked, or accessed through a phishing scam, and used to commit identity fraud. Hackers will commit identity fraud so that they can take out loans in your name, access some of your other online accounts to make purchases or steal more of your personal information to bypass security questions.

  • The Solution

    To secure the protection of your personal information stored online, use strong passwords and don’t use the same password for all of your online accounts. If you have difficulty remembering a lot of different complex passwords, you can make use of password manager applications. A highly recommended password manager application to use is LastPass which will randomize your passwords for you and store them in a safe and encrypted location.

Browsing Data Protection

  • The Problem

    Your online browsing habits and website visits are tracked and monitored by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Although individuals have very little control over the security of their ISP, there are other steps you can take to minimize how much of your online habits are being tracked.

    In addition to what is being tracked by your ISP, a lot of the websites you visit are tracked using cookies, which are then used to better personalize your online browsing experience. Cookies can often be seen as an intrusive form of advertising and can be taken too far when unique identifiers are added to a cookie and can be used across different services and sold to various marketing platforms. An example of this is after you have been searching for handbags on Amazon, advertisements for handbags pop-up on all of your social media pages.

  • The Solution

    If you find this type of advertising intrusive, it can be a good idea to decline the use of cookies when accessing a new web page for the first time. In Europe, with the introduction of the EU’s new general data protection regulation (GDPR), all websites need to ask your permission first before making use of cookies.

    Another good idea if you don’t mind accepting the use of cookies on certain websites, you should make a habit of clearing your browser cache regularly. Clearing your browser cache will clear all of the browsing data stored by your internet browser.

Financial Information Protection

  • The Problem

    When you make a purchase online, you are asked for financial credentials. This information often includes your full name, card number, expiration dates, and security codes. There are a lot of cybercriminals who want to use these financial details to conduct fraudulent transactions, as well as to sell this information to others on the Dark Web.

  • The Solution

    The best way businesses can prevent cyber hacks from happening to their consumers is to make sure the information they provide on their website(s) is encrypted.

    Encrypted information means the information is encoded and unreadable for any unauthorized individual. Always make sure the website you are making a purchase on is secure. These days your web browser should give an indication as to whether you are visiting an unsecured site in the website URL., If a website is secure, it should display an image of a closed padlock in the URL bar next to the name of the site.

As the information and digital age continue to evolve, so does the ease of access to this information by individuals who can take advantage of and manipulate that information. Although large corporations and our governments are getting more involved in making sure our personal information is safe and secure, it is also up to us to take action in our own lives and form better online habits to ensure the safety and security of our personal information.