Three ways to avoid online identity theft

Millions of people are affected by identity theft every year and with identity thieves getting smarter and smarter, you've got to up your digital security game.

Here are three tips to protect your personal data from digital thieves:

1. Use strong passwords

F-Secure's chief research officer Mikko Hypponen recommends making sure each of your important accounts has a unique password or better still go and get yourself a Password Manager. "This will solve tons of other problems for you, as you will automatically have a unique strong password on every site," he says. By practicing some of these security basics you are making yourself not such an easy target.

2. Check you bank accounts an credit cards daily

Check your accounts regularly so you know when something's awry. Purchases you didn't make should be obvious— like a petrol fill-up in another part of the country or an ATM withdrawal abroad.

3. Check your privacy settings on social media

If your privacy settings aren't strong enough identity thieves can find all sorts of information about you from your Facebook, Instagram or even Twitter account. What's more, photos can give strangers the opportunity to present a false intimacy with you or your children's lives that could lead to escalating complications and dangers.

And remember

Email still offers criminals one of the simplest ways to intrude into our devices. F-Secure Labs continues to find that most of the attachments in spam emails contain trojans. And links in spam emails can send us to compromised sites or phishing scams. Do whatever you can to avoid opening spam, and try not to click on any strange attachments.

Anyone who uses the web can be a target for online criminals and anyone who is storing large amounts of data is definitely a target. Data breaches are now considered one of the largest risks in the world and chances are you have already been affected by one, or will be eventually.

You can check if your email has already been breached at a site like Checking out the list of breaches on the site is a good reminder that you need to choose who you trust wisely and do everything you can to minimise your risks, which includes not making your email address public and avoiding signing up for online spam lists.

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