Protect yourself from cybercrime

Unlike those footprints you leave on the beach, your digital footprint doesn’t simply wash away with the rising tide. No, your digital one leaves a trail that will probably last long after you’re done checking email and Twitter.

With internet-connected devices at every turn of your personal and professional life, you’re putting your digital footprint out there daily, probably hourly. No question, the digital revolution has provided the world with unique options, enhanced levels of communication, and always-on connectivity that’s a few keystrokes away. Sure, it’s great, but with all of that good comes some bad. That bad comes in the form of the theft of identity, passwords, personal info, and money. It’s estimated that by the end of 2021, cyber theft will cost the world $6 trillion. That’s even a lot of dough to Jeff Bezos.

Here are a few tips to help protect yourself against cyber criminals.

  • If you go to a retailer’s website, try to type, not link to, their URL in the browser’s address bar. Yes, it’s a little more work, but you’ll ensure you’re going to their actual website. If you use a link, you could go to a site that perfectly mimics the retailer’s site. I mean, it can be a spitting image. Before you know it, you’re typing in your info and credit card info and, well, you know the rest.
  • If you find yourself questioning whether a site is legitimate, here’s a good way to check. Type in a fake password; if it lets you in, you’re on a malicious site. Promptly exit and delete it from your browsing history. They want you in and will accept anything.
  • Check your banking accounts regularly and make sure you can account for all of the purchases you’ve made online.
  • Regarding incoming emails, if you see ALL CAPS in the subject line, there’s a pretty good chance you’re on the wrong end of a phishing attempt. Don’t open it, no matter how tempting the subject line. and for goodness sakes, don’t forward it.
  • Make sure any site in which you enter information contains an “S” after “HTTP” in the site’s URL. That S stands for secure, which means your communications are encrypted.
  • If an email offering contains bad grammar or misspelled words, it’s a big red flag. A company that’s attempting to provide quality content, even if it’s not in their native language, isn’t going to send something out that’s rife with poor grammar and a spate of misspellings.
  • Use an anti-virus service or product that can detect malicious and fraudulent websites and also includes anti-phishing technology.
  • A site that contains poor quality images is a big red flag, especially if it’s a site from a well-respected retailer that wouldn’t be caught dead publishing grainy or fuzzy images.

The best, easiest way to protect your digital footprint

Most security experts maintain that the best way to protect against cyber crime is by picking a great password. With the number of terrific password management tools available, there’s really no excuse not to have a handle on this issue. It’s not an end-all be-all solution, but it goes a long way to help keep your digital footprint from revealing information that cyber criminals would love to have.