5 Tips to Protect Your Online Identity: How to Stay Safe in 2022

5 Tips to Protect Your Online Identity: How to Stay Safe in 2022 - data

The 21st century has seen a dramatic shift in how we communicate, from in-person conversations to online interactions. This phenomenon of remote lifestyles started long before the stay-at-home orders of the Covid-19 pandemic, and now, most people will find that they need to use the internet to accomplish simple tasks that they would have done in person years prior. There are digital payment methods, cryptocurrencies, and 24-hour order shipping with some online retailers—you can even buy a car on your phone and have it delivered to your house. With more and more businesses ditching the overhead of brick-and-mortar shops and physical office spaces for cheaper, online-only business structures, it’s hard for us to go a single day without using the internet, and there’s not really a way around it anymore, especially if you’re looking to stay competitive in our modern world. 

With more and more people online each day, there are also more and more people who will fall victim to online threats. It’s easy to forget that we aren’t playing a game when we’re using our phones to complete a task, especially if we’re mindlessly browsing the web, but it’s important that we never let our guard down against potential online security hazards. There are all kinds of dangers online, and in some cases, they’re disguised so cleverly that most people won’t realize the risk, which lands many unsuspecting people in the middle of identity theft, fraud, and other types of financial harm. 

Malicious cyber actors can hide under the radar and steal innocent people’s information for their own personal gain. There’s a massive underground market for stolen information, and if you find yourself as a victim, you should monitor your accounts diligently long after the incident itself. Your information can stay online for months—sometimes longer—and those who are involved in the transactions can be from anywhere around the globe. Whether it’s from a data breach, a misclick on a phishing email, or a fake website that disguised itself perfectly, someone having unauthorized access to your information is never a good thing, but you can mitigate some of your overall risks by taking some proactive steps to protect your online identity.

If you discover that you're a victim of a cybercrime, you should speak with all the financial institutions you do business with, change your passwords, and consistently check your accounts to detect evidence of suspicious activity. But, of course, it's essential to take precautions to ensure that your personal information is safe and secure before the incident occurs. Here are five tips to help you stay safe online in 2022, courtesy of America’s largest personal injury firm.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Most services allow you to turn on an extra layer of security for your login process. On top of your password, you might have to enter a code that was emailed to you or answer a security question that you set up when creating the account. While this might slow down the process when you try to log in truthfully, the added step means that someone can’t access this account without also knowing how to decipher the second layer of security. This is especially useful if you find yourself as the victim of a data breach, as that additional information isn’t often included in the leak. 

Use a Password Manager

Password manager software helps you generate, store, and manage your passwords for online accounts, making it much easier to remember all the passwords you’ve kept in your head for years. These services give you a straightforward way to avoid using the same login credentials, too, which is a problem that occurs all too often. 

Many people distrusted password managers in the beginning, but in 2022, multiple options offer the utmost security and protection. Organizations like 1Password, LastPass, and Keeper are all used by millions of internet users all over the globe, with the users decreasing their risk of forgetting passwords, repeating the same username/password combo, and finding themselves a victim of identity theft and fraud. 

Be Careful What You Click On

The emails that land in your inbox aren’t always trustworthy. Phishing emails and other online scams run rampant across the internet, and sometimes, they appear completely normal. You might not be able to determine if the communication is trustworthy at an initial glance, especially if the malicious individual behind the message made an effort to conceal their actions. 

There are people who hear their boss talk about phishing emails in a weekly meeting and don’t take it seriously, but these scams can seriously cripple an organization. If an employee falls victim to a phishing scam, the network they’re connected to can be accessed and shut down completely, bringing their operations to a grinding halt. 

The bottom line? Whether you’re at work or on the couch, you need to stay vigilant on the internet and be careful what you click on. 

Keep Your Software Up-to-Date

Software updates are a constant annoyance, but the developers aren’t prompting you for no reason. While many software updates do include new features and quality of life changes, they’re mainly to alter their security measures to stay in front of the latest cyber trends. Downloading these updates sooner rather than later can protect you against malicious individuals who discover the vulnerabilities that the developers aim to patch, which can be the difference between falling victim to a cyber crime and staying safe from harm.

Use a VPN

A VPN (virtual private network) encrypts all the traffic between your device and the VPN server, making it much more difficult for hackers to intercept and steal your data. Most people don’t need to use a VPN for their daily use, nor will they enjoy the speed delay that’s associated with these kinds of services, but it does put an added barrier between you and someone trying to steal your data. Plus, a VPN keeps you safe from ad trackers, advertising cookies, and other browser elements that take your data without your knowledge.

Morgan and Morgan Stands as an Ally to Victims of Cybercrime

Cybercrime, and the speed of cyber actors, are evolving every day, with even the most advanced businesses finding it difficult to defend themselves against a person hundreds of miles away on a computer. In 2021, there were a total of 1,789 data breaches that impacted innocent US consumers. Surprisingly, that number is down from 2020, but we’ll likely see more in the future as technological advancements make it easier to steal someone’s personal information through fraud and deception. 

If you find that you’re a victim of cybercrime, our attorneys can help advise you on your next steps. Contact us today to get started, but remember: never let your guard down when you’re surfing the internet, even if it’s on your favorite social media site.