The internet is a great place to share things that you want your friends and family to see. For example, things like that video of your baby crushing the slopes on a tiny snowboard or that picture of your dog balancing a bowl of guacamole on their head. Lots of valuable information lives on the internet. This includes info that you don’t want everyone to see. This can include your banking information, your SIN and other private details that you’d rather keep to yourself.
It’s important to maintain your privacy online. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by taking steps to protect your data. Here are a few simple tips to help secure your information:
Secure your accounts
One of the easiest ways to secure your accounts is creating a strong and unique passphrase or password. Your passwords are your first line of defence. The more difficult they are to crack, the more difficult it will be for cyber criminals to invade your privacy. You can also use a password manager to help you create and organize your passwords and passphrases, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. Just make sure you use an extra strong password to protect the password manager.
Enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever it’s available on your accounts and devices adds an additional layer of security. MFA can stop cyber criminals from accessing your accounts even if they do manage to get a hold of your passwords. MFA is a combination of what you know (such as a PIN, password or security question), what you have (such as a fob or another device), or what you are (such as your face, voice or thumbprint).
You should also review privacy policies whenever you sign up for a new account (or make sure the company you’re signing up with has one in place). Review the privacy settings and read how the information from your exisiting accounts is shared. Some apps will access not only your private information but also that of the contacts stored in your device. You may be surprised by how much information that new app or service wants to access.
Be on the lookout for phishing messages
Phishing messages are one of the most common cyber scams. They’re designed to steal your information, money and time. Cyber criminals will send you an email or text message to trick you into sharing your personal information. They will try to get you to click a malicious link or download a suspicious file by pretending to be a company (like your bank) or someone that you know (like your boss).
Phishing messages are particularly dangerous for your privacy. Falling for a scam could result in losing sensitive information that cyber criminals could use to steal your finances, passwords or even your identity. Since cyber criminals would be able to gain access to your accounts, they could use the information from them to exploit you, steal from you or impersonate you. Be on the lookout for the red flags of phishing, like urgent or threatening language. You can always follow up with the sender through a different medium if you aren’t sure whether the message is real.
Protect your devices
Malware, short for malicious software, is a type of software that infects your devices and allows cyber criminals to infiltrate or damage them. Cyber criminals are experts at making malware look like legitimate files or software that you would typically download. Malware may also be used in phishing messages. You can protect your devices and your privacy by avoiding suspicious looking downloads and installing anti-virus software whenever possible.
You can also help protect your devices by better managing the networks you connect to. Cyber criminals can steal your data through unsecured public Wi-Fi networks like your local coffee shop’s Wi-Fi. This is why we recommend using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and prevent it from being compromised. You should also secure your home Wi-Fi by changing the default name and password to something unique, so you can browse the web safely at home.
Protecting your online privacy is easy when you’re being cyber safe. Take control of your personal information by securing your accounts, protecting your devices and being on the lookout for phishing messages that are trying to compromise your data.