You have probably heard about the hack attacks and security breaches at major retailers like Target and Home Depot. You may also be familiar with similar high-tech break-ins at restaurants, government agencies and even banks and brokerage firms.
It is all enough to make you give up your laptop and go back to paper checks, but you do not have to go that far to protect yourself and your personal data. If you want to protect yourself, you can start by avoiding common mistakes that open you up to data theft.
#1. Using Weak Passwords
The word password is not a good way to secure your devices, yet year after year that simple word shows up on the list of most popular passwords. Using weak passwords on your computers, tablets and smartphones is just like leaving the doors open on your home.
Other questionable passwords include 1234, 5678, qwerty and any other obvious combination of characters. You should also avoid anything that is easy to guess or discern from your social media profile – like the names of your children or pets, your birth date, your school mascot and so on.
Even a strong password could put you at risk if you use it everywhere. Using the same password at every site where you have an account might be convenient, but it is also extremely dangerous. If even one of those sites has a security breach or is compromised by a hacker, all of your other accounts could be at risk.
You might not find out there is a problem until much later, making it that much harder to recover. Setting up a unique password for each site might be more time-consuming, but the extra security is worth the effort. You can always use a password program to store your credentials securely and recover them if you forget.
#2. Making Your Email Address Your Usemame
Many sites make your email address the default username, but you should change it if you can. It is just too easy for people to find your email address and if it is also your username they now have half of the information they need to hack your account and steal your personal information.
If you must use an email address as your username, set up a separate one just for that site. It is not a perfect solution, but it can be a good compromise on websites that require an email address as the username.
#3. Not Locking Down Your Security Cameras
You install security cameras to protect your home, but if they are not properly secured they could actually put you at risk. If your home security cameras are not protected with a strong password, an enterprising thief could use the IP address to spy on you and your family.
Adding a password to your security cameras is not difficult. Just find the name of the manufacturer, go to their website and find the instructions. You will feel much better knowing that your family is truly protected.
#4.Letting Websites Store Your Credit Card Information
Allowing your favorite websites to store your credit card information is certainly convenient, but that convenient comes at a steep price. If the site’s security is ever compromised, your credit card information is now in the wild, where hackers and identity thieves are free to grab it.
It only takes a few minutes to type in your credit card information. That is time well spent if it protects you from hackers and identity thieves. You can protect yourself even more by using a single credit card for all online purchases and verifying every line item when you get your monthly statement.
Identity theft is a big problem in the modern world, but making a few simple changes in how you shop and navigate the web can help a great deal. Avoiding the five mistakes listed above can protect your data and shield your personal information from prying eyes.