In light of the increased security concerns caused by the Equifax data breach and the increased extent of the Yahoo data breach, we feel it is important to remind clients of ways that you can protect yourself from identity theft and other data theft. Below are four easy steps that you can take today to help protect your internet security.
Use a Strong Password and Keep Them Unique
Creating strong, complex passwords for each of your online accounts is paramount in helping to prevent a cyberattack. TD Ameritrade suggests the following steps to help increase the strength of your passwords:
- Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols
- Substitute letters for numbers wherever possible in a password (ie. Replace the letter ‘s’ with the number ‘5’)
- Change your passwords frequently (and always change them immediately if you think your account could have been compromised)
- Use different passwords for different accounts (reusing passwords compromises your online security)
- Answer security questions with answers that only you would know and that cannot be accessed via public information
Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication services provide an extra layer of security to your most vital digital accounts, according to AARP. If two-factor authentication is offered in your account, you’ll still login to the account using your secure password, and then the two-factor authentication site will send you (via your phone, text, or email) a randomized code that you must also enter before gaining access to your account. This additional layer of security helps ensure that it really is you signing into your account.
Use a Password Manager
It can be hard to remember lots of complicated, different passwords, and it’s tempting to save them to your browser or write them down in a notebook somewhere. Before you do that though, a password manager is a more secure way to keep your passwords safe. Password managers (aka password vaults) securely store and encrypt your passwords and make it so that you only have to remember one master password. It is also recommended that you setup two-factor authentication on your password manager. Some vaults also generate secure randomized passwords so that you can add an extra layer of security to your online accounts.
Keep Your Software Updated
According to a Google security expert, when hackers discover new ways to steal data, gadget and software companies usually work quickly to release fixes that prevent additional breaches. But, while software and gadget companies can alert you that an update is available, it’s usually up to you to install those updates or set your security settings so that the updates occur automatically.
Protecting yourself from identity theft begins with making sure that your personal and financial information is not shared with other people. Even data that may be publicly available – such as your name, address, phone number and email – should be protected as much as possible.
There are a lot of online security tips available from reputable sources, and learning how to protect your internet security is very important. For more tips on how to keep your online identity safe, TD Ameritrade has produced this pamphlet on ways that you can safeguard yourself against identity theft.