7 Ways to Protect Your Digital Information Online

Jun 28, 2023 3 min read

In a day and age where almost everything is done online, it’s important to protect yourself and your personal information. There are commons scams to be aware of and security measures you can take to protect yourself. 

Common Online Scams and Risks to Internet Users

Some of the most common cyberattacks happen quickly. They’re sneaky and can result in consequences for those that fall for them. Here are five types of cyberattacks, how they work and what may happen if you stumble into them. 

  • Malware: Malware is intrusive software that is developed by cybercriminals. This can steal data and damage or destroy your computer or computer system. 
  • Phishing:  Phishing is a technique used to obtain sensitive information, such as passwords, bank accounts and emails. Phishing may result in false emails attempting to impersonate you to people you know. 
  • Identity theft: Identity theft is when your personal information is stolen for fraud or sale of your personal information. Identity theft could be experiences such as unauthorized purchases on a credit or debit card or application for a rental. 
  • Wi-Fi hacking: Wi-Fi hacking is when someone gains unauthorized access to your Wi-Fi network. A newer form of Wi-Fi hacking is happening through smart home cyberattacks. This happens when a smart home device is connected to the same network in your home as your personal devices. 
  • Social engineering scams: Social engineering scams are used by criminals to exploit a person into giving them money or confidential information. This is commonly happening through social media or over the phone. 

How to Protect Your Personal Data

Your personal data and information are sensitive and should be protected. Here are seven steps you can take to help protect your personal data from cyberattacks. 

  1. Set Strong and Unique Passwords

Using strong and unique passwords that vary will help keep your personal information safe. Keep your passwords in a safe location and use good management practices to prevent them from being compromised. Variation in letters, number and symbols is likely to deter a scammer. 

  1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Another way to protect your personal information is through two-factor authentication. Many common applications and businesses use this, including Google, Facebook and Capital One. Two-factor authentication can include a text message with a code, a call, Face ID and more. This allows you to control who is logging into your accounts and prevent them if it’s not you. 

  1. Keep Software Up to Date

Having the software on your computer up to date is another step you can take to protect your data. Updates to software fix security issues and look for bugs. You can even install antivirus software on your device to be on alert for security breaches. 

  1. Recognize and Avoid Phishing Attempts

Phishing attempts are designed to be believable. Many phishing attacks appear in the form of emails. If you receive a suspicious email from someone you don’t know, ignore it. Do not click on any links within emails that are unfamiliar. 

  1. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

You may enjoy scrolling through your computer at a local coffee shop. However, using public Wi-Fi networks can be a risk to your data security. Using a VPN is an added layer of security for your personal devices. You can download a VPN on your computer or an app on your phone to utilize while in public. 

  1. Limit What You Share Online

While online, exercise caution with what you share. Check your privacy settings on social media regularly to make sure your information is shared only to your liking. There are types of personal data you may not realize could be valuable information to a scammer. Don’t share your birthdate, home address, bank information or passwords online. 

  1. Backup Your Data and Keep It Secure

Having an external hard drive or an encrypted cloud service to backup your data can help protect you from a cyberattack. If you happen to have a data breach on a personal device, having your sensitive information stored in a different place may help keep your data safe. 

What to Do If You Are the Victim of a Cyberattack

If you fall victim to a cyberattack, acting quickly can help you. Here are five things to do after a data breach

  • Find out what was compromised
  • Change passwords
  • Change account numbers
  • Add a fraud alert
  • File your taxes early

If you find that your identity is stolen, there are steps you can take to be proactive. Here are eight steps you can take if your identity is stolen

  • Talk to your bank
  • Change your sensitive info
  • Get an identity theft recovery plan
  • Investigate your credit report
  • Contact debt collectors
  • File a police report
  • Report the theft to your medical providers
  • Alert issuers of identification documents

Further Ways to Protect Your Personal Data

Identity theft is frustrating, shocking and scary. Knowing how to protect your personal data and scams to be aware of can protect you from this happening. For added protection and to reduce your risk of identity theft, ask your local Farm Bureau agent about adding Identity Services and Fraud Expense Coverage to your Farm Bureau insurance policy. With this coverage, experienced fraud specialists will work on your behalf to help resolve the situation if your identity gets stolen.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.