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Schools and Cybersecurity

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Between interrupted zoom calls, to phony emails, this year is gearing up for a higher than ever rate of cyber attacks on school districts.

Cybersecurity has been rapidly increasing and in fact, effective September 2019, Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that would require Texas school district to have a cybersecurity policy. These attempts have unfortunately fallen short as we began the 2020 year. Texas school districts in particular have fallen victim to ransomware attacks more than any other state according to the K-12 Cybersecurity Resources Center.  Texas has had at least 126 incidents in ransomware attacks since 2016. In only this year, we have seen multiple attacks on just the Houston Texas area alone. Country wide, there were 348 publicly disclosed cyberattacks on school districts in 2019, three times that in 2018 (K-12 Cybersecurity Resources Center).

6 Things You Can Do As A Parent or Teacher  

1. Unattended Devices
We know that we write about this a lot but we can emphasize enough how important it is to avoid leaving your devices unattended. This goes for phone, tablet, and laptop. 

2. School Wifi
Just because you are using the school’s WiFi does not mean that you are being safe. Hackers can access WiFi’s so it is most important to be using a VPN when accessing your things at school or remote. A simple google search for aVPN will offer great options currently on the market. 

3. Avoid Phishing Emails
Even though hackers will try and lure the individuals in finance positions within a district, they will also target what they consider “weak links” in the teaching staff that might not have had that much training on ransomware. Make sure you are check who the sender is, any possible grammatical errors, or any personal information requests. You will not be asked by your district to give out your SSN via email for example, so if you are receiving requests of that sort, know that it is phishing. If you aren’t sure and think you might have received a phishing email, forward it to your IT department. 

5. Vishing 

Is a term used to describe voice solicitation, a method using the telephone in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. This can be common for a school district where a person claims to be the parent of an individual who attends the school. Never give out personal information over the phone. It is better to tell the individual that you will look into it and call them back instead of accidentally divulging information to the wrong person. To learn more about this specific type of social engineering attack, read out Vishing blog entry here

 

5. Compromised Websites  
Compromised websites are very popular because distracted and busy adults hardly take the time. Especially not to observe a domain website once they have clicked a link from an email that they believe is a trusted source. What hackers will do is send you a very convincing email to an account that you have saying you need a new password and to click a link. The link will the re-direct you to a fake website that looks eerily similar to the correct one. An easy way to avoid is to google the official site and do what you need to do from there. This type of Social Engineering is called Pharming. To learn more about this specific type, check out our blog post on Pharming

Remote Work and Security

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How to make sure that your remote work is as safe from hackers as possible. 

As our country has shifted to remote work following the outbreak of Coronavirus, this new way of productivity is also having its own risks. In March of this year, the National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an alert about the risks of remote working. It is now more important than ever to secure your work and identity.

7 Tips To Keep In Mind During Remote Work 

1. Phishing 
Phishing emails are now more than ever trying to target employees. Be careful that you with what you believe is a work related attachment. Sometimes it is easier to click on bait with company email because you expect all of them to be work related, but beware, hackers know this.

2. Strong passwords
It can’t be emphasized enough the importance of complicated passwords as well as never repeated a password across different accounts. NEVER make the password to your email address the same as one that is linked to your credit card information with another account.

3. Mobile threat
With remote work, many people are using their mobile devices to do work as well. Stay alert with receiving any text message with links or attachments from someone you do not know.

4. Secure emails
Be sure you are sending an encrypted email when it contains personal information.

5. Secure network
Only connect to wifi networks that you know are secure. If you are using free wifi, your data can be easily accessed by a hacker.

6. Video Meetings
Only use paid accounts such as through zoom or webex to avoid anybody else gaining access. Use a unique ID and passwords for calls as well as create a waiting room so that individuals cannot join unexpectedly. 

7. Unnatteded Devices
Do not leave your computer in the car. It might seem like an easy thing to do while you run an errand, but be warned that there are a lot of people that watch in parking lots hoping to gain access to a device. Leaving your computer unlocked and unattended is not safe practice. Make sure that you are taking your computer wherever you need to be.

iPhone Launch Leads To Increase in Scams

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With the launch of the iPhone 12 approaching, reports have shown scams related to “free trials” have surfaced

The Identity Theft Resource Center has reported that there is a scam going around concerning a “free trial” of the iPhone 12. Scammers are targeting mobile devices and sending text messages as an Apple chatbot to offer these alleged trials.

With a release date due for October, The iPhone 12 has led to much anticipation amongst fans. Identity thieves are using this as an opportunity to gain credit card information of eager aficionados.

Thieves are sending false text messages claiming to be an Apple chat bot with a link that will take you to input your delivery information for the supposed “testing group for a free trail” but in actuality. It then prompts you to input your credit card information for the “delivery charge” of the device. 

Experts have informed that the format of this scam is very convincing. Sophos provided the image below as an example of what some of these apple scams looks like. 

7 Tips to help protect your medical identity with the upcoming flu season:

1. There Is No Such Thing As “Free”
It its easy to be compelled by the words “free” but nothing is really ever free. If you’re not paying the product, then you’re the product.  

2. Links 
Never ever click a link that was sent to you via text or email. Unless coming from a trusted contact, do not open. 

3. Grammatical Errors 
If there are any grammatical errors, the link is likely false. In some instances, it will take you to a website that may even look real but it a copy controlled by them. More on this in our Pharming blog post! 

4. Know Legitimate Emails
You can learn how to identity a legitimate apple emails. If the emails asks you for the following then they are false:

  • Social Security Number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Full credit card number
  • Credit card CCV code

Emails from the App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or Apple Music purchases will never ask you for the above information. If you are being asked to update your account, do so ONLY by going to your Settings app directly within your Apple device.  

5. If you are phished
If you already provided your information to a phishing scam, please call our Restoration Specialists at 855-287- 8888. 

Avoiding Medical Identity Theft

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What classifies as medical information?
Medical history including past illnesses, surgeries, ongoing conditions, major diagnoses, healthcare insurance and coverage, and prescriptions.
Why is medical information stolen?
Your medical information is one of the most valuable things a hacker can steal! It is stolen and sold to other hackers and criminals to steal identities and commit fraud through the deep web. Over two and a half million Americans have been victims of Medical Identity Theft. Your medical information can be used to obtain false identification documents including driver’s licenses and passports. Medical records, in particular, are often used to obtain controlled substances through established illicit channels, which may eventually show up on your record.

7 Tips to help protect your medical identity with the upcoming flu season:

1. Social Media
Never post online about your medical information, history, or major conditions. Social media sites are full of bad actors searching for any opportunity to take advantage of other people. Don’t give them that opportunity by posting identifying information online! 

2. Lock it up  
Keep electronic medical records in password-protected computers and folders. Here is a tutorial on how to lock folders on your computer.

3. Be Aware of Emails  
Do not include health information in emails! When updating friends or family on you and your family’s life, it may be tempting to include information about recent medical events and developments. Be extremely careful with what you share over email, even if it is good news! Emails are frequently compromised by hackers, and you don’t know who may be reading that email that you think is private.

4. Destroy the evidence!
Shred or destroy physical copies of insurance forms, doctor’s notes, and prescriptions which do not need to be kept. Identity thieves can be pretty desperate, and, believe it or not, some go so far as to dig through garbage cans and dumpsters to find papers that may contain sensitive or compromising information. While violating your identity may be illegal, the Supreme Court actually ruled that trash picking is legal, giving potential thieves license to search your garbage with impunity! Something as simple as an old physician bill found in the trash could lead to fraudulent charges or prescriptions that could affect your record.

5. Review medical history and charges.
Review your medical records with your doctor to ensure accuracy and purge fraudulent records. The easiest way to find out if a thief has been using your insurance or identity to receive treatment is to review your medical records! Your doctor will be able to show you what treatments have been received under your name and help you remove any fraudulent records!

6. Take care of your Insurance Card.
Your insurance card alone contains enough information for a thief to steal your identity and open accounts or receive medical treatment on your behalf. It may not seem like a lot, but your insurance account number, name, and address are all a thief needs to cause you a pretty big headache!

7. iLOCK360
Sign Up for iLOCK360. Basic, Plus, and Premium plans all include Medical ID monitoring. 

What to do if you’re a victim of Medical Identity Theft

Contact iLOCK360.  As an iLOCK360 paid subscriber, our certified U.S.-based Identity Theft Restoration Specialists will work on your behalf to restore your good name. A Specialist assigned to your individual case will guide you through each step of the restoration process and ensure that your case is handled with care. With your consent, the Restoration Specialist can help you with closing accounts, re-ordering cards, placing a fraud alert with each of the three credit bureaus, and removing fraudulent activity from your credit report. Restoration Specialists offer robust case knowledge in both credit and non-credit fraud situations. Our dependable identity restoration services will reduce the time and effort you’ll spend restoring your good name. 

Call 855-287-8888 to speak with an Identity Theft Restoration Specialist. 

How Else Can iLOCK360 Help?

Did you know that your iLOCK360 membership can help alert you if your personal information may have been bought or sold by hackers online?

iLOCK360’s proprietary CyberAlert can help you monitor your identity 24/7/365 for possible compromise on the Dark Web (i.e. the anonymous online marketplace where illicit activities occur). If your monitored information is found bought or sold online you will be automatically alerted so that action may be taken to address the issue.

CyberAlert’s available monitored features include: Bank Accounts, Credit/Debit Cards, Email Addresses, Phone Numbers, Medical ID Numbers, Social Security Number, Driver’s License and Passport.

Want to know if your information may have been compromised by a cybercriminal on the Dark Web? Be sure to log into your iLOCK360 account to setup this feature today.

7 Tips to Avoid Being “the Catch” of a Phishy Email

By Seasonal, Uncategorized

92.4% of malware is delivered via email, and with the influx of holiday emails, it’s no wonder that this time of year is a favorite for hackers. In between the hustle and bustle of the season, it is easy for a phishy email to slip right through the cracks — that is, if you’re not careful.

With phishing such a common hacker tactic, could you have been a target before?

The most common scams involve receiving an enticing deal from your favorite “retail store,”  or an urgent message from your “phone company” or “bank” threatening to cancel your service if you don’t provide them with personal information. It can even happen in the workplace as well. Has your boss ever sent you a last minute message requesting that you send critical documents to them? These can all be telltale signs that an email just doesn’t smell right. Instead of taking the bait, be sure to independently verify the email sender and investigate before clicking a link, downloading an attachment or sharing personal information about yourself.

We want you to be aware of how to spot a phishing email, so we have provided you with 7 simple ways to spot an email red flag. These can help you determine if an email is legit or really sent from a hacker trying to ruin your holiday cheer.

Click the link below to view our 7 Email Red Flags. This sheet can also be printed and shared!

7 Email Red Flags

For more information on common hacker practices such as phishing, vishing, pharming, and smishing, check out our Social Engineering series.

Don’t fall for holiday scams this year

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This year’s holiday shopping is unique in that it will be a cyber-shopping holiday year. This leaves people at an increased risk of fraud. With the COVID-19 outbreak, many more will be shopping online and hackers know this. In fact, as of March, Americans had already lost $13.4 million fraud linked to COVID-19 related scams. 

So, for those who haven’t checked everyone off their list (we’re with you!), here are a few things to look out for as well as small adjustments that will make you a safer online shopper. 

4 Best Practices When Online Shopping:

1. Use Credit Card
It is a safer practice to use your credit card when shopping online instead of your debit card. Credit card companies almost always have better theft protections and can insure what was stolen. Debit cards are more limited in what they will compensate you for. 

2. Don’t Store Card Information
It might seem like a really easy and convenient way to shop but it comes at a cost. Having your information so readily available on your computer can be a big risk in the case of a hack or someone gains access to your device.

3. Guest Checkout
Always checkout your cart as Guest. You want to be providing the least amount of information as possible. Remember that anything that you provide, is extra data points you are giving them about you. 

4. Loyalty Programs
Similarly, this is another way that a company gains more data about you. Unless you shop somewhere VERY often, loyalty programs are unnecessary ways for companies to track you. Remember that the more information a company has of you, the higher you are put at risk in the case that they have a data breach. We know from the past that breaches of stores like Target, Macy’s, and Adidas have affected millions of consumers.  

9 Holiday Scams To Remember:

1. Gift Card Scam
In the first nine months of 2018, consumers lost $53 million in gift-card scams. This scam has increased sharply from $20 million in 2015.

Make sure that the gift cards you purchase have not been tampered with. Check to see what other gift cards look like, inspecting the seams, PINs and anything else that could be amiss. Also, online gift cards can be scams as well. If you receive an unsolicited email or link claiming to be a gift card, do not automatically open it. Investigate further and contact the gift card purchaser to verify they did indeed send it. Furthermore, if you receive a call from a service provider saying that you can pay them in the form of a gift-card hang up. 

2. Counterfeit Goods Scam 
A surprisingly low price and a sketchy seller are big red flags.  When a price seems “too good to be true” on a name brand product, it’s likely to be a fake. Make sure to purchase products directly from the brand owner and their trusted authorized retailers. If a manufacturer can’t profit with such a low price, that’s a good clue you aren’t getting the real deal.

3. E-Holiday Card Scam
Few people think before opening up an e-holiday card. If you open a “fake” one, it can install malware on your device or steal your personal information. Spelling mistakes are a common sign of a fake e-card as well as if the sender is not someone you know. You should always avoid clicking on anything from a source that you don’t know. Be on the look out for malware on your device by keeping your security software up to date. 

4. Corrupt Coupon Scam
The internet loves to overwhelm you with hot deals and sales. Many of those are actually fake deals created by hackers trying to entice you with a sense of urgency such as “Offer Ends Soon!”. Beware that the link to the sought after coupon may actually be dangerous malware that can infect your device and steal your identity. If the coupon asks for your personal information or forces you to buy something in order to receive a deal later it may be a scam. 

5. Charity Scam
Many people feel that the holidays are a great time to give back. Don’t be easily influenced by social media posts claiming to give money to charity. The best bet for charitable donations is to give directly to a reputable and known organization.

6. Shipping/Billing Fraud
Billing fraud occurs when the victim’s address is connected to the payment account used to purchase the stolen goods. This form of fraud increased by 34% in the last year. 

Shipping fraud occurs when a criminal uses their address for the delivery of stolen goods purchased online. Rates of shipping fraud increased 37% in 2017. From a regional perspective, the Western U.S. saw a nearly 60% increase in attack rates for shipping fraud, according to Experian. 

 

7. Travel Scams
Although there are not much travel being done these days, if you are trying to book something for the future, do not click on suspicious ads claiming to have travel sales for you. Given the current climate, it is easy to think that what is usally a “too good to be true” deal, might actually be true. Stick to reputable travel websites such as Kayak.com, Expedia, or Google Flights that offer options for comparing competitive pricing. Additionally, it is always a good idea to purchase your tickets directly through the airline’s website when you are ready to book your trip.

What to do if you’re a victim of Identity Theft

Contact iLOCK360.  As an iLOCK360 paid subscriber, our certified U.S.-based Identity Theft Restoration Specialists will work on your behalf to restore your good name. A Specialist assigned to your individual case will guide you through each step of the restoration process and ensure that your case is handled with care. With your consent, the Restoration Specialist can help you with closing accounts, re-ordering cards, placing a fraud alert with each of the three credit bureaus, and removing fraudulent activity from your credit report. Restoration Specialists offer robust case knowledge in both credit and non-credit fraud situations. Our dependable identity restoration services will reduce the time and effort you’ll spend restoring your good name. 

Call 855-287-8888 to speak with an Identity Theft Restoration Specialist. 

How Else Can iLOCK360 Help?

Did you know that your iLOCK360 membership can help alert you if your personal information may have been bought or sold by hackers online?

iLOCK360’s proprietary CyberAlert can help you monitor your identity 24/7/365 for possible compromise on the Dark Web (i.e. the anonymous online marketplace where illicit activities occur). If your monitored information is found bought or sold online you will be automatically alerted so that action may be taken to address the issue.

CyberAlert’s available monitored features include: Bank Accounts, Credit/Debit Cards, Email Addresses, Phone Numbers, Medical ID Numbers, Social Security Number, Driver’s License and Passport.

Want to know if your information may have been compromised by a cybercriminal on the Dark Web? Be sure to log into your iLOCK360 account to setup this feature today.

Don’t bargain away your identity during Black Friday

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After stuffing ourselves with turkey and cranberry sauce, many dream of losing sleep, battling crowds and racing through the aisles of Target to grab the best deals of the season. That’s right, Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) has become a much anticipated holiday tradition. In fact, the leisurely days of food coma and football are declining as now more than 174 million Americans take part in this annual retail shopping frenzy. And if you’re like the vast majority (93%) of shoppers connecting to and interacting with technology during this year’s shopping season, you can be especially vulnerable to online fraud and identity theft. 

So, before you start checking everyone off your list, make sure to read our 9 tips for protecting your identity when shopping online this holiday season. 

9 Tips to help protect your identity when shopping online this holiday season:

1. Batten down the hatches
Verify that the antivirus software on your device is working and has been updated.

2. S is for Secure 
You can check if a website will securely transmit your personal information by verifying that the url has an “https” at the beginning. The “s” stands for “secure.” Also verify that there is a “locked” padlock before the URL. It is important to note, that while a site address starting with https encrypts your data during transmission, it does not guarantee how the site owner will use and/or manage your data. 

3. Be leery of links.
Fake emails that appear to be from a trusted retailer are very common during the holidays. Thieves will pose as real retailers to get you to click on malicious content that may steal your personal information or install harmful malware on your device. Verify that the links you’re clicking are legitimate. For more information, check out our recent blog post on pharming.

4. Take cover with credit.
If a thief steals your debit card you are more vulnerable to financial loss because they have direct access to your checking account, whereas, a credit card is not directly linked to a bank account. Additionally, credit cards provide protections that debit cards do not. Under federal law, your personal liability for fraudulent charges on a credit card cannot exceed $50. But if a fraudster uses your debit card, you could be liable for $500 or more, depending on how quickly you report it.

5. Watch for counterfeit coupons.
Thieves try to entice holiday buyers by creating and sending fake coupons. Verify that the coupons you are using are legitimate and have the retailer’s exact logo. Beware that social media links for alleged “coupons” could connect you to a phishing site or install malware on your device.

6. Protect your passwords.
It’s crucial that you never reuse a password across accounts. It’s also important that you create passwords that can not be easily guessed (stay away from creating passwords that use easily guessed personal details such as birthdays, graduation years, pet names, etc.). So how does one remember so many different passwords? Consider using a digital Password Manager (such as LastPass or 1Password) to help you generate long, random and unique passwords as well as assist you with storing them in a secure spot. 

7. Research 3rd party payment systems.
Unlike regular online transactions, payments made through Apple Pay or Google Pay don’t use your real credit card number, so vendors never get access to it. These services make use of a technology called payment tokenization, which converts your credit card number into a cryptogram that’s worthless to hackers. Ordinarily, hackers just need your credit card number, CVV, and expiration date to commit fraud, and those are a lot easier to come by.

8. Statements Matter.
Be aware of the purchases you make and keep track of them on your credit statements. During the rush of the holiday season, it can be easy to let one or two transactions slip by that you never made. If you see a transaction that you do not recognize, be sure to call your credit card company or bank right away.

9. Veil your identity with a VPN
Using a VPN when browsing online can help you mask your internet activity and secure your personal information. All of your information and activity is known to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) because of your IP address. By changing your IP address, you can mask your internet activity. A VPN lets you do this. 

What to do if you’re a victim of Identity Theft

Contact iLOCK360.  As an iLOCK360 paid subscriber, our certified U.S.-based Identity Theft Restoration Specialists will work on your behalf to restore your good name. A Specialist assigned to your individual case will guide you through each step of the restoration process and ensure that your case is handled with care. With your consent, the Restoration Specialist can help you with closing accounts, re-ordering cards, placing a fraud alert with each of the three credit bureaus, and removing fraudulent activity from your credit report. Restoration Specialists offer robust case knowledge in both credit and non-credit fraud situations. Our dependable identity restoration services will reduce the time and effort you’ll spend restoring your good name. 

Call 855-287-8888 to speak with an Identity Theft Restoration Specialist. 

How Else Can iLOCK360 Help?

Did you know that your iLOCK360 membership can help alert you if your personal information may have been bought or sold by hackers online?

iLOCK360’s proprietary CyberAlert can help you monitor your identity 24/7/365 for possible compromise on the Dark Web (i.e. the anonymous online marketplace where illicit activities occur). If your monitored information is found bought or sold online you will be automatically alerted so that action may be taken to address the issue.

CyberAlert’s available monitored features include: Bank Accounts, Credit/Debit Cards, Email Addresses, Phone Numbers, Medical ID Numbers, Social Security Number, Driver’s License and Passport.

Want to know if your information may have been compromised by a cybercriminal on the Dark Web? Be sure to log into your iLOCK360 account to setup this feature today.

Diving Into the Dark Web

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The Dark Web is often alluded to when speaking about online illegal activities, but what is it really? iLOCK360 uses proprietary technology to scour the Dark Web  24/7/365 to identify if your personal information has been bought or sold on 1000’s of malicious websites. So, how does one even access the Dark Web, and how much are criminals paying for stolen identities? The infographic below breaks down the layers of the Internet, what it is used for, and also provides some tips for how you can minimize the risk of your personal information ending up for sale on the Dark Web.

5 Tips To Protect Your Social Security Number

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Your Social Security Number (SSN) is an extremely valuable piece of personal information. It is unique to you, and with it identity thieves can commit multiple crimes in your name, including tax and credit card fraud. Follow the 5 tips below to help you protect your SSN and your identity as a whole.

1. NEVER Carry Your Social Security Card

Carrying your social security card with you is the easiest way to get your SSN stolen or compromised. Most people already carry some form of state issued ID in their wallets or purses, so if you were to lose your entire wallet (including your SSN card), someone would have all the necessary information to successfully steal your identity.

2. Create a mySocialSecurity Account

A mySocialSecurity account allows you to see all things associated with your Social Security number. You can view and manage benefits you may be eligible for; order a new card in the event that you lose yours; and, you can also see all earnings that have been associated with your SSN to verify that the information is accurate.

3. Never Send Your Social Security Number Electronically

Most reputable institutions will not ask you to send your full Social Security number electronically (i.e. email, text message, etc.), but if they do, it is imperative that you refuse. Not only is this an electronic documentation of your information, but it also leaves your SSN vulnerable.  Hackers may gain access to your information through the same WiFi network you are using, or if you or the recipient’s email gets hacked at a later date.

4. Guard Your Final Four

The last 4 digits of your SSN are completely random and specific to you, therefore they’re most important. The first 5 digits are assigned based on where and when you were born. It is easy for identity thieves to learn the first 5 digits of your SSN based on your birthdate and birth city, so if a thief also gains access to your last 4 digits they could easily learn the entire 9-digit string.

5.  Avoid Providing Your SSN When Asked

There are only a few agencies that require your SSN in order to obtain services from (i.e. employers, financial institutions, medical insurance providers, etc.). If someone outside of these essential services asks for your SSN, you should not provide it to them.

Could you possibly be oversharing on social media?

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Social media has become an easy, convenient way to share and receive information, instantly. It can be extremely tempting to take to sites, such as Twitter or Facebook, with life updates, achievements or pictures. But how much is really too much?  You may be surprised to learn which small and seemingly insignificant details a cybercriminal may be able to gather online and use against you.

Follow these 6 tips when using social media to ensure that something as simple as a Facebook post doesn’t lead to the theft of your identity.

1. Avoid using your social media profile to create new online accounts

Third party websites will often prompt you to link your social media accounts to “simplify” the sign up process. Although this may be convenient by allowing you to avoid making an additional account; it also means that if a hacker compromises your primary account, they may also have access to all of your accounts.

It is best practice to use a different user name and password combination for each of your online accounts, so that if one of them is hacked, the others may still have a chance of being secure.

2. Only Add People That You Have Actually Met Offline

Social media is a fun place to connect with those that we care about. It is also frequently used as a venue to meet new people. A new connection may not only be able to see many additional profile details (that were formerly private), they may also be able to phish for personal information about you.

While it may seem obvious to avoid adding anyone that you don’t know outside of social media, you must also exercise caution when someone you’re already connected with sends you a duplicate request. Many times this request could be coming from a fraudulent account that the respective friend knows nothing about. In this case, it is best to reach out to your friend directly to confirm that the request did actually come from them.

3. Even Small Personal Details Are Significant

Many times, sharing information online may seem harmless, but in reality you may be revealing small bits of information about yourself that a hacker is looking for. Each piece of information you offer up about yourself can be used like a puzzle piece by a cybercriminal. They may be able to gather enough small details that they can link them together and formulate a fairly accurate portrayal of your identity. One such example: If you wish your mother happy birthday on her Facebook page, you may also be disclosing her maiden name – this detail may also be used by a hacker to answer one of the most common security questions.

Other items to avoid sharing online include:

  • Your full name
  • Date of birth
  • Birth location
  • Anniversary date
  • Hometown
  • Pet names
  • School mascot
  • Favorite movie
  • Make/model of car

4. Utilize Custom Security Settings 

We’ve already established why it’s important to avoid accepting connection requests from people you do not know, but it is also important to utilize the privacy and security settings available on most social networking sites. Most sites give users full control over what information they make available to the public. For example, Twitter allows you to protect your tweets so that only people you follow can see what you post (see example image above).

5. Ensure Your Location is Turned Off

It can be tempting to show off your vacation to your family and friends online, but it is vital that you remember to keep your location turned off. Revealing your location can not only give criminals the means to cause you physical harm, but could also allow cybercriminals to gather information on frequent places you visit. Additionally, enabling your location when you’re at home can reveal your billing address, which may be utilized to commit credit card fraud.

6. Pause Before Posting

Lastly, take a moment and think before you post something on the Internet. Remember that what you post online can never truly go away. Consider if the information you are posting could leave you, your family, or your friends vulnerable to physical harm or identity theft.