Each year the government recognizes October as the month for which we need to renew our efforts at understanding what our online footprint is, and how to keep it safe. The theme for 2019 is Own It–Secure It–Protect It.
Today, we take an inside look at the part 3 of this theme – Protect It.
The Digital Footprint
Your internet profile, both professional and personal, is a digital footprint you leave as you go. Think of walking through the sand down the beach, and looking behind you to see your footprints in the sand. Eventually, the tide comes and washes them away, or others walk over them. They fade away.
Your digital footprint can be more like your footprints in the sand, but not unless you Own It and Secure It- but most of all, PROTECT IT. One of the many problems with our online presence is that we tend to fall trap to the idea that whatever is on the screen must be credible. This means both content and destination. This is how we fail to protect it- IT being our digital footprint.
Let’s remember there are multiple automated programs and social media bots and sites dedicated to skewing your perception and thus your information and thus your attitude and thus your response. From political viewpoints to religious indifferences, and every other social issue in between, programs are generating the discussion points- not people.
So keep a few things in mind:
- Consider the source. A lot of information, even on credible news sites, is really not the truth. Whenever you are reading anything online from anyone or anywhere, be sure to use a filter. Remember, filtered water is much better than well water. Unfiltered information may just end up like well water- undrinkable.
- Re-verify. Two is always better than one online. This is why MFA is always suggested. If you comes across news or information in one place, be sure there are different reports or stories of the same news item. Avoid regurgitated stories. This is just a mainstreaming of an idea rather than a reporting of the news.
- Separate. So much of what we see these days is another person’s opinion. Everything we read is cast through a narrow lens using descriptive adjectives. Avoid the white noise and focus in on the truth of what you are reading. You can usually see through smoke and mirrors when you focus.
Knowing that there is always someone somewhere trying to scam you personally or through the social media posts you see or the news that you read is your first layer of protection. An educated consumer is a better protected user. Here are some more things to know.
Common Internet Scams
The bad guys want your information, identity and money. Same old story, but with a non-physical flair to the crime. Knowing what to look for adds value to protecting you against those threats. In 2018, these 3 threats were to top risks to the online experience:
- Identity Theft. This is the criminal acquisition of another party’s personal information used to obtain money, property, or credit. Red flags for this activity include bills for items you did not purchase, unrecognized credit card charges, or evidence of new accounts opened in your name not authorized by you.
- Imposter Scams. Also known as phishing scams, these are actions where a third party purports to be someone who they are not that you believe is whom they represent to be that fraudulently collects personal and confidential information directly from you. Once they have this information, they use it to commit additional Cyber Crime with this information.
- Debt Collection Scams. In these cases, cyber criminals attempt to collect from you on fraudulent debt. Red flags for these actions include request for wire transfers, credit card payment, or gift cards and reloadable cards.
In order to Protect what you have owned and secured, recycle the tips we gave you during Parts 1 and 2 of this series. The biggest one is to enable MFA protocol to be sure when you do communicate with sensitive information you are certain it is going to the right people.
But a review of all of these tips is in order to move through the worldwide sand with fading footprints.
As always, have a safe browsing day.