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15 easy steps to prevent your identity from being stolen

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

More and more companies are becoming data companies and unfortunately, there is no way of stopping that from happening.

But what we can all do it be more aware of how our information can be used and think twice before we share too much online.

This article forms part of the awareness and activities we do as part of the Cloud Security Alliance and as Director of Events of UK chapter, I’m proud to be part of. Also, this activity is endorsed by the ISC2 and aligned with their core principles.

  1. Always use a strong password (of 8-11 characters, with a mix of upper and lowercase and where possible special characters) if you find them difficult to remember to use a password tool like 1password.

  2. See if your credentials have been leaked in one of the many credential leaks (LinkedIn, Dropbox, mail etc…) check on HaveIbeenPwned

  3. Use different usernames and passwords across social media (CheckUserNames finds the same username across different media). Try to use a variation of your name in social media unless you want to be identified Note - consider whatever you post on social media is publicly accessible. A good example is to imagine what you post on social media as being displayed on a big print on the side of a building

  4. Remove the metadata from your images in Windows and Mac Android or iPhone. JPEG images as a general rule contain a lot of information, including the location where it was taken. This can be used to track where you are at a particular date in time. The information also gets added to social media.

  5. Disable the option to share your location on social media apps or directly on your phone (iPhone or Android)

  6. Double-check your social media privacy settings, but don’t always trust them. Only share personal information with specific individuals (e.g. a picture of your kids, when and where you are on holiday).

  7. When moving house use redirection services. Royal Mail and other postal services offer it so make sure you use it. If you move house, also inform: a. your bank, b. credit card company c.utility providers (gas, electricity, etc d. All other organisations that you deal with, as soon as possible.

  8. Be mindful of people that might have access to your post (if it’s left in an open place, on the patio or you put it straight in the bin). - Contact Royal Mail or other post providers if you think your post is being stolen. - Check whether a mail redirection order has been made in your name without your knowledge.

  9. Be mindful of documents you throw away that might contain sensitive information. Anyone can get access to your bin. Also, be mindful on recycling paper that contains confidential information s get hold of privacy ink (like this) or shred paper with a shredder like this one or use shredding scissors.

  10. Check your credit score regularly to see if your identity has been compromised and new credit card or another line of credit has been opened in your name.

  11. Services like Experian and others are paid services that help to track identity use or whenever someone opens a new line of credit on your behalf.

  12. Set up Google alerts for when new information about you appears: This will notify you if your name suddenly appears where it shouldn't.

  13. Browse safely in public places by using a privacy screen on your devices (Privacy screen mac or iPhone or android-Samsung).

  14. When connected in public places use VPN to prevent profiting from the local WiFi or from a possible rogue WiFi hotspot. Some of the top VPN services or also listen to the advice from Nick Espinosa on VPN.

  15. Always be wary when you are checking your emails. Be vigilant and never click on the links you’re unsure of. A simple way to make sure the email is from who they say it is is to click on the name - so often it is nothing like the name that is displayed and quite simply a scam.

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