Is your private data at risk? 8 tips for protecting confidential information
It’s never been more important to keep your confidential information safe. According to fraud prevention service Cifas, in 2018 there were a huge 189,108 cases of identity fraud in the UK. And recent findings suggest that almost a third of victims have a visible online footprint – usually a social media presence. According to Cifas:
“The information a fraudster needs to commit identity fraud can come from a number of different sources, but the two most likely are the internet and the individual themselves,”
“As more services have moved online, so there is a greater danger of data being involved in a breach. There is also a higher risk of people falling victim to phishing attacks or other forms of social engineering.”
If you’re a victim of identity fraud, you may lose more than just money – although this can be devastating enough. You may also find it difficult to get credit cards or a mortgage in the future, and fraudsters can continue making new versions of ‘you’ to open bank accounts, apply for state benefits and much more.
So, how do you protect your data from fraudsters? Here are just a few of the basic measures you should be taking:
- Encrypt your data – especially if you’re travelling. One of the best counter surveillance measures you can take for the most confidential of data (i.e. passwords and login info for your bank accounts) is encryption. Use a professional device like a tamper-resistant, encrypted USB stick to protect personal and business data on the move. Look for pro features, such as brute force hack defence and military-grade encryption, for ultimate peace of mind.
- Shred or destroy old documentation. Remember that fraudsters won’t have any qualms about rooting through your recycling bin, so destroy anything containing confidential information. And if you move house, make sure all utilities and services have your new address – or your data could end up in the hands of new tenants.
- Monitor your credit report and bank/credit card statements carefully. If you pay attention, you can identify suspicious activity before it gets worse. Hopefully, the fraudster will be caught before they do too much damage.
- Be careful when shopping online. Only use secure https encrypted websites with the gold padlock symbol displayed.
- Beef up your online protection. If you only have basic anti-virus and firewall protection, it could be worth investing in more advanced solutions. Remember that your laptop and your phone are the gateways to your data, so they need robust protection.
- Take password protection seriously. It’s a pain remembering dozens of logins for bank and email accounts, but you should definitely avoid using the same password for everything. Always use secure, hard-to-guess passwords, and consider using a password vault if you’re worried you won’t remember them.
- Dispose of old devices properly. This means wiping old smartphones and laptops thoroughly before recycling, selling or throwing them away. This is to make sure every trace of your data is destroyed.
- Tighten up your social media privacy settings. Take some time to review the security and privacy settings for the social media platforms you use. You need to make sure you know exactly who can see your profile and the content you post.