How to protect your digital identity
Online fraud has increased exponentially—forcing everyone to be extra vigilant online. Below, find out the best ways to protect your digital identity.
4 min read
The virtual world seems to be playing an even bigger role in our lives recently, from spending the pandemic at home to the introduction of the metaverse. This trend also applies to online fraud, which has increased exponentially—forcing everyone to be extra vigilant online. Below, find out the best ways to protect your digital identity.
What does ‘digital identity’ mean, exactly?
Your digital identity is the identifying information people can find about you online. This can include:
- Your online footprint, like images, videos, web pages, blog posts, social media profiles and posts
- Personal information, like IP addresses, email addresses, date of birth, etc.
Who can access your digital information? Businesses can access your personal data online by tracking your consumer habits and then use that information for commercial purposes. And scammers can track your data and use it for fraud.
In Europe, your digital identity is protected by the GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, which was adopted by the European Parliament in 2016. The GDPR makes it mandatory for organizations collecting personal data online to guarantee that data is protected. However, the internet is still quite unruly, so you should continue to be vigilant about safeguarding your digital identity.
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Why protect your digital identity?
When you think about all the information that can be accessed about you online, it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to protect your digital identity. Cybercrime is increasing largely due to identity theft, which is when personal information is, legally or illegally, collected from online sources. For example, someone could collect your bank details through phishing scams and drain your account. Or criminals could hack your email address, steal your identity, and use it to scam others. The consequences can be serious—financially, professionally, and personally.
Protecting your digital identity also gives you control over your image online. Did you know that almost half of employers google those who apply for jobs with them? With this in mind, protecting your digital identity can prevent embarrassing posts, images, and sensitive data from appearing if someone looks you up online.
How to protect your digital identity
It can be difficult to completely control your digital identity online, since some data is published by third parties, but there are still many things you can do to help protect yourself.
Tips to help you manage your digital identity and reputation
- Have a powerful, up-to-date antivirus program installed
- Regularly update your apps and software
- Use unique, strong passwords
- Use two-factor authentication where possible, like with your email address, bank account, etc.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN), especially if you’re connecting to public WiFi
- Regularly delete search history and cookies on your search engine to prevent sites you’ve visited from storing your data
- Use secure browsers
- Regularly type your name into search engines to check the results
- Never carry out financial transactions on public wifi or unsecure sites, which are websites that don’t show the padlock symbol next to their domain name
- Use an email address that doesn’t contain your name when making payments or registering on websites
Protecting your digital identity on social media
Social media has become an extension of our identity. Profile information and sharing posts and photos all prompt users to disclose a lot of personal information. It’s no coincidence that identity theft on Facebook and Instagram scams have exploded in recent years.
Control your online reputation and prevent cyber fraud by making your personal data private on Facebook and Instagram. Here’s how:
- Set your Instagram account to private
- Change your Facebook privacy settings for posts and photos. Go to Settings > Privacy > Limit past posts
- Remove access from third-party apps you don’t use
- Don’t allow your Facebook to appear in search engines. Go to Settings > Privacy > Click ‘Edit’ and ‘No’ next to ‘Do you want search engines outside Facebook to link to your profile?’
- Disable your location history and non-essential cookies
- Don’t share identifying information in your ‘About’ section since cybercriminals can use this information to steal your identity
- On Instagram, use a pseudonym instead of your real name
To learn more, check out our guide on financial scams.
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