Data Privacy Day — held on January 28th each year — is an international effort to raise awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, protecting data, and enabling trust. Cybercrimes such as identity theft and online scams continue to take a staggering toll across the globe, with 15 million data records exposed through data breaches worldwide in just the third quarter of 2022. In fact, the cost of cybercrime is predicted to hit $10.5 trillion by 2025, according to the Cisco/Cybersecurity Ventures 2022 Cybersecurity Almanac.
It seems that nearly everyone has been notified that their personal information has been compromised in a security breach at some point or has been the target of a phishing attempt or another online scam. Here are four helpful tips to protecting your personal information online.
- Don’t give your personal information away. This seems obvious, but have you ever had a cashier at a store ask for your phone number or email address? It’s not rude to say no – it’s smart. They don’t need your personal information for you to buy a shirt. Also, be suspicious of unsolicited or urgent emails that ask you to provide sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers – even if it appears to come from a person or organization you trust. These may be phishing emails which often look legitimate but are not. Finally, don’t give your information to anyone over the phone, unless you initiated the call and are sure you are dealing with a reputable business.
- Review your privacy settings. Make sure your smartphone locks automatically when not in use; fingerprint authentication is more secure than using a passcode. Review the privacy settings of all your social media platforms, and set your profile to the highest security level you can. Also, be sure to check out the permissions settings for each app you download. Some apps ask for permissions to access your contacts, photos, or GPS locations, but may not need these permissions to function. Opt out of any apps that require you providing information you aren’t comfortable giving out.
- Create strong passwords. A recent cyberthreat study showed that most data breaches are caused by stolen or weak passwords. Ensure that all of your devices are password-protected (or use facial or fingerprint recognition), create complex passwords or passphrases with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols; and be sure to use a different password for every program and platform you use. There are a number of online password managers available that can help you securely track your passwords, rate their strength, and even autogenerate passwords for you. You should also reset your passwords on a regular basis – especially after any suspicious activity. Here are some additional tips to help you create strong passwords.
- Use antivirus software and keep it up to date. Make sure your computer is running the latest version of your antivirus software to prevent computer viruses, malware, or even ransomware attacks. Also remember to install the latest software updates/patches when they become available to keep cybercriminals from capitalizing on any known vulnerabilities.
Valley Can Help
At Valley, we are committed to protecting our customers against cybercrime, identity theft, fraud, and any kind of financial exploitation. We take our customers’ security very seriously, and take significant measures to protect the security of your bank accounts and your personal information. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud – contact us immediately. We are here to help.