How Can I Protect My Online Identity?

Protect My Online IdentityIf you’re not careful with how you act online, your online identity could be compromised. As a result, having your online identity stolen can lead to devastating consequences that can affect various accounts. For instance, your financial, healthcare, e-commerce, social media, data, and much more could be at risk when your online identity is stolen. The loss can include usernames, passwords, credit cards, and social security numbers. For some people, they can quickly resolve/restore their identity. For other people, it can take months before everything gets figured out and back on track. By following these critical IT security measures from NetComplete you could prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity fraud.

Secure Your PC and Mobile Devices

Be sure your operating system is up-to-date and uses strong passwords.

Add More Security on your Mobile Account

Don’t fall victim like other people in the past when they were hit with a SIM swap. Contact your mobile phone provider and ask them for a SIM card password or security PIN on your accounts. Also, ask if they can “flag” your account if they receive any suspicious activity for added security.

Never AutoSave Passwords in Your Browsers

Delete saved passwords in all of your browsers. Every one of them has the option to export saved passwords for anyone to view.

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Upgrade Your Free Email Accounts

Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook are the most popular free email accounts, but if you get hacked, you have to resort to an online form and wait for support. For 24/7 support by phone, email, or online, upgrade your Gmail and Microsoft accounts. In addition, with an upgraded account with either of these, you get additional storage and other perks.

Remove Your Phone Number from Critical Accounts with Authentication Factors

If you have been a victim of SIM swapping, your phone is usually the first device that has an authentication app or a saved code. Therefore, a hacker with a SIM swapped phone number will not have access to the trusted device. If an online service requires SMS-based authentication, you can use a Google Voice number (or an alternate SMS option) associated with an email account that is entirely separate from your primary email.

Backup Important Data

Regardless if it’s professional or personal documents, photos, programs, music, it’s essential to back up anything you can’t replace. Otherwise, they could be lost forever. The purpose of backing up more than once is to safeguard a single point of failure. Cloud-based storage is an excellent way to prevent fire, flood, technical, or human error from destroying local copies. Also, a configuration mistake or forgetting to pay the annual subscription fee on a fee-based cloud service can cause some or all of your flies to disappear. It’s worth noting its also a good idea to backup files on another local drive just in case.

It’s essential to make a conscious effort to practice these steps to defend your online identity. Stay alert and watch for common signs of identity theft such as false information on your credit reports, missing bills or other mail, receiving new credit cards you didn’t apply for, credit approval denials for no reason, and call to notices about past due to bills for services or products you didn’t purchase. Lastly, you must consider credit freeze and think twice before using public Wi-Fi.

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VPNs: Why You Need Them

virtual private network

Having antivirus software and setting strong passwords are no longer considered the bare minimum in cybersecurity. In a world of hackers, third parties, and ISPs constantly monitoring networks and your online habits, utilizing a virtual private network (VPN) is crucial for keeping your surfing habits private.

What is a VPN?

The best way to explain what a VPN is a secure tunnel between your device and the destinations you visit on the internet. Once you’ve made your PC’s connection as the VPN server, your computer operates as if it’s on the same local connection as the VPN. This makes your connection seem like you moved to a different location. Then, as far as websites go, you’re browsing from that server geographical location, not your actual computer location. When you’re searching on the web through a VPN, all the data transmitted and received is also encrypted. VPNs prevent anyone from hackers to government agencies from monitoring your online activities.

Why Should You Have One?

Naturally, security and privacy will be the primary reasons why you want a VPN. For instance, if you’re connected on a public Wi-Fi network at a cafe or coffee shop. Using VPN encrypts the information you’re sending or accessing online. This means a third party can’t intercept your credit card details, login credentials, private conversations, or other sensitive documents. VPNs are also beneficial for accessing geo-restricted websites. If you’re traveling to another country and specific US websites are blocked, you can connect to a VPN located in the US to access the sites you require.

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Which VPN Should You Choose?

Given the increasing demand for secure online privacy, VPNs are surging in popularity. The following consideration can help you find the right one.

Cost – Although free VPNs are available, it’s strongly recommended that you avoid them since they could keep records of your internet activity. In some situations, your internet activity could be sold to data brokers or cybercriminals. Maintaining a VPN service is also expensive, which means the free ones will likely plaster ads on your browser to make some quick money.

Paid VPNs like SurfEasy and StrongVPN often come with more robust features and configurations that keep your connection secure. Prices depend on a VPN’s features and subscription length and keep in mind that how you pay is also essential. Other VPNs offer anonymous payment systems like bitcoin, and others will use gift cards to avoid giving out your personal information.

Location – The physical location of VPN servers is essential if you need to access region-blocked websites. Therefore, if you’re planning on accessing a different country based service, your VPN provider must have serves installed in that country.

Capacity – Remember to read through a VPN provider’s terms of service to determine how much data you’re allowed to use. If it’s possible, figure out how many servers a VPN provider has. If they have plenty of servers online, you can rest assured that they can support your internet browsing.

Device compatibility – Another critical component to consider is whether the VPN can be used across various devices. Nowadays, employees work on laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so you’ll want a VPN that’s compatible with all these.

IP Leaking – Beyond the fundamental nuts and bolts of the VPN protocol, there are other challenges like dealing with leaky tunnels. This means your IP address could be tracked. A great way to evaluate a VPN service is to sign up for a free trial. This will allow you to check whether your real IP address is being leaked. If it tracks your physical location, you should opt for a more reliable VPN service.

In Conclusion

If you’re concerned about privacy for any reason, using a VPN is a great option. Just make sure you read the fine print of the VPN provider you go with. Don’t always take their word for it. Some VPN providers claim they don’t keep logs on user data, but third parties have discovered evidence that they do. Therefore, if you have any questions about VPN networks, contact NetComplete for all your IT support and services.

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