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Five Tips to Prevent Online Identity Theft

The news is constantly filled with reports of online identity theft and internet hackings, yet it shouldn’t be a reason to stop you using the internet. With the right preventions set up such as firewalls, spam filtering and a bit of common sense, the Internet shouldn’t be something to fear.

Here are five effective ways you can reduce your risk of online identity theft and stay safe when using the internet:

1. Minimalise how much sensitive data you send across public Wi-Fi networks

As Europool recently warned, you shouldn’t trust free Wi-Fi providers to have security protocols in place that protects your applications and data from being compromised. The head of Europol’s cybercrime centre, Troels Oerting has warned that a growing number of cyber-attacks are now taking place through public networks. He commented recently that “we have seen an increase in the misuse of Wi-Fi, in order to steal information, identity or passwords and money from the users who use public or insecure Wi-Fi connections.”

2. Use two-step verification Logins

Two-step verification adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. This dramatically reduces your risk of online identity theft and having your data stolen. It works by placing an additional security question or authentication method in place, on top of your standard one-step ‘username and password’ combination.

3. Run a penetration test on your web applications

Many applications are vulnerable to data and identity theft because application developers don’t apply consistent secure coding practices. By running a penetration test on your web applications, you can create a full audit of your company’s external visibilities and weaknesses. By exposing these weaknesses, you can then go back and repair them.

4. Set up and maintain a suitable antivirus program

By setting up an antivirus program on your desktop and mobile applications, you protect your network from viruses, Trojans, bots, worms and malware. Once a virus has found its way onto your network, it can sit there silently without your knowledge reading and copying your data, profile and secure information. If a virus has access to this data, it greatly increases your risk of online data and identity theft.

Once you have a reputable antivirus program set up, you need to consistently maintain it and keep it up-to-date in order for it to work.

5. Keep your software up-to-date.

Software providers are constantly updating and providing patches on their programs; however it’s not just programs that need to be constantly updated. Operating systems, browsers and third-party software should be kept up-to-date too. This is because every day, new viruses and Trojans are developed and discovered. Because of this, updates become available which counteract and prevent any viruses from becoming of any use to hackers.

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