What is data to a private citizen? It may just mean your pictures, your documents, and above all, it can also mean your identity. Imagine a scenario where your pictures get erased forever, or worse, somebody uses your data to get a loan in your name. I personally reported a Facebook user for impersonating a friend of mine (I thought she opened a new Facebook account). A Facebook notification said that the poser got married recently. I know in fact, my friend has no plans of marrying her long-time partner.
Protecting personal data is especially important for overseas workers.
An overseas worker is more vulnerable because their family is not with them physically. They would have nobody to turn to for immediate counsel. Their loved ones can also be victimised if a stolen identity is used to bilk money from them.
Here are some tips on how to protect your data:
- If you’re using your full name in Facebook or LinkedIN, be careful not to share any other personal identifiers like your mother’s maiden name, your address, or your phone number. Even your date of birth can be used to impersonate you.
- Be judicious in approving apps that can post to your account. Be particular about quizzes that ask for your permission because they are harvesting your data. You can repeal your permission after you’ve done their fun quiz, if you want.
- Make sure Windows Defender is turned on if you’re using Windows.
- Don’t leave your email address or phone numbers on comments – it can be used to steal your identity.
Get your computer up to date
- Use the free SuperAnti-Spyware from support.com if you don’t want to pay for an anti-virus software. Another great alternative is MalwareBytes.
- Always backup your files and pictures. Another way to do this in a budget-friendly way is to simply email yourself a copy.
- Never ever disclose your password to anybody, even your partner.
- Your password should never be associated with your birthday, your loved ones’ birthday, or your address.
- Experts in Information Security recommend changing your password at least every three months.
Be careful with your pictures
- Turn off location services for most apps. This sounds extreme, but it pays to be prudent.
- Don’t post a picture of your ID cards, it can be stolen. This sounds like common sense, but I do see a lot of people post their new license if they passed a driving or a board exam.
- Don’t post a picture of your boarding passes. The barcodes and QR codes contain your data. Not only that, it tells would-be thieves that you’re not at home.
Vigilance is the key.
All things considered, there really is no absolute recipe for protecting yourself in this digital world. That being said, vigilance and being aware of consequences can go a long way towards protecting your data from being lost or stolen. Protecting yourself is also protecting your loved ones.
Picture attribution CC BY 2.0
Screen – flickr.com/markusspiske
Boy – flickr.com/34547181@N00