The internet becomes more central to us each day. We use it to coordinate appointments, shop, and educate ourselves. In turn, our online identity is constantly used. This is why the protection of our personally identifiable information (PII) has become more important.
Generally, you leave a digital footprint everywhere you go. This footprint contains certain parts of your PII. For some, it might be your username and password. In other spots, you leave your social security, credit card, and bank account numbers. The further you travel into the internet the more your footprint is fragmented.
We can’t stress enough why online identity management is now a critical part of our daily lives. The duplication of our PII impacts more than just us. It can affect the lives of our family and friends in good and bad ways. Should the information be taken and utilized maliciously, it has financial and criminal implications.
This is why we need to take the pieces of our online identities and manage them in a better way. Here are five steps to make your online identity more difficult to abuse.
What is Online Identity?
Online identity is the sum of one’s characteristics and interactions on the Internet. Because one interacts differently with each website one visits, each of those websites will have a different picture of who you are and what you do.
We’ve previously discussed what online identity is and how to protect it in this post.
Never compromise security
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5 Ways To Manage Your Online Identity
1. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
A strong password is one part of proper online identity management. It creates a barrier between your information and those who want to take it. Yet, your account is still prone to a malicious attack if you use that password in multiple locations. If cybercriminals break into it on one internet site, then they’ll search for your information in other locations.
A second layer of authentication security is needed to protect your online identity. This is in the form of multi-factor authentication (MFA). When added to your account, MFA requests an additional level of identification. Most of the time, this is a unique code sent to your email or phone.
MFA minimizes the risk of malicious activity because those who want to hack your data may not know your email or phone number. Thus, the information only goes to you.
2. Secure Your Browser To Protect Your Online Identity
Companies collect your PII data through cookies. These are small text files with pieces of information that identify your computer. They’re also used to do things like fine-tune internet preferences and send customized ads. They also determine your physical location. This is detrimental to your online identity management if a hacker gets into your system.
To reduce this risk, you want to take control of your browser and what it records. A way to do this is through the internet security values on your computer. Somewhere in the medium-high to high category minimizes attacks that can from sites that are actually home to phishing programs or viruses.
The other thing to do is regularly clear your browser. The more cookies you have stored the greater the risk of attacks. Though it means you might have to log into a site again, the inconvenience is worth it.
You can perform an additional task to maintain security – place frequently-used websites into the Trusted Sites list. It helps speed up the process to get to certain locations, including pay pages. Furthermore, you can add sites that aren’t allowed to access your computer.
You might also want to consider installing an ad-blocker on your computer. This helps to minimize the installation of cookies that track your internet activity. Also, it reduces the cookies installed on your system during a given time period.
3. Don’t Save Your Payment Information
When you purchase an item on a website or mobile application, you are normally asked to save your payment options for future use. This can save time for your next selection, and they are normally secured. However, it’s also another fragment of your online identity that’s prone to attack.
Basically, don’t save this information. It’s better to enter this information each time you make a purchase. Also, go to sites where you saved accounts from older accounts and remove them. Those are also susceptible to malicious activity.
4. Shield Your Smartphone
Smartphones are not only used for easy access to the internet from anywhere. They’re also incredibly useful in digital surveillance. They can track both your internet searches and where you physically are at any time.
As a result, companies collect information on where you were when you received a call or sent a text message. While in a brick-and-mortar shop, tracking applications provide information on where you are in the store.
This might be a bit too much for you to handle. Customizing advertisements to your personal options is one thing. Knowing where you are at all times is another.
To minimize these actions, you need to perform some maintenance on your smart device. First, remove any apps you don’t use. This helps reduce the companies who want to snoop on your current location. On top of this, disallow location information for existing apps. You might have to allow access to the app every time it is used, but it is a minor discomfort for added security.
5. Educate Yourself
There’s knowledge about online identity management and paranoia about it. Do an internet search on identity management and you’ll find dozens of stories and sites that promote conspiracy theories about the subject of personal security. They detail supposed facts about subjects that only take place in the movies.
Don’t go down that path. The internet is a powerful tool to increase your productivity. It is not part of a grand conspiracy to take over your life and the world. Thus, visit reputable sites to get a better understanding of PII and online identity management.
Now more than ever, the verification of online identities is critical. After the events of 2020, we conduct more business over the internet than in previous years. That’s bound to increase as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence usage increases. We can’t perform transactions under online nicknames. We need to address them as our real selves.
Therefore, we need to find the best ways to handle our online identity management. Especially when it involves a good deal of PII that’s spread across multiple locations. By doing this, we can minimize the risk that cybercriminals will take advantage of it for profit.
The tips mentioned above definitely help. For more assistance, particularly when dealing with identity management in a business environment, you can rely on Teamstack. With our cloud identity and access management platform we’re able to provide your workforce with secure and convenient access. Not only does this protect individual information but also the company’s high-security data.