Identity theft or identity fraud is a crime in the US and most other countries and it represents the act of wrongfully using someone else’s personally identifiable information to commit fraud and gain financially.

While identity theft does happen in the offline world, in recent years, it’s a lot easier to steal sensitive data online. In fact, you don’t need advanced technical skills to do so. Due to Phishing as a Service, nowadays almost anyone can orchestrate a cyber attack designed to trick people into giving away their own data. 

Plus, the pandemic has made things worse as the lack of reliable information and the abundance of speculations made people more vulnerable in front of cyber-attacks and scams. Also, if you take a look at these examples, it’s easy to see that identity theft methods are more advanced and cunning than ever. 

Luckily, cybersecurity solutions are equally advanced. Plus, specialists work hard on putting a spotlight on the fact that regular internet users need to be knowledgeable about the threats that lurk in the shadows. 

Both commercial entities and individual users are at risk when it comes to data leaks and sensitive information, so it’s important to pay more attention to cybersecurity. To get you started, here are a few tools that can make your life online a bit more secure. 

1: Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Most online banking systems and financial services with an online component practice 2FA authentication nowadays. This service strengthens the security of your account by adding an extra step to the login process. 

When you work with a 2FA account, after you introduce your password, you will be requested to introduce a code that was sent to your phone. The code is only valid for a limited time (max 5 minutes) and is generated automatically by the service. 

This way, even if your password is hacked or you are the victim of a phishing attack, the criminals behind it won’t be able to access your account since they don’t have access to your phone. 

2: Password Manager

“123456”, “qwerty”, and “password” are still the most common passwords people use in 2021! While it’s true some services will require a complex password with numbers, special characters, and uppercase letters, the majority of sites will still accept simple passwords that are easy to break. And even when you use a more complex password, it’s usually something close to your heart like a loved one’s day of birth or your dog’s name (or a combination). Sadly, these can also be easily guessed by a clever cybercriminal who follows your social media accounts or hits you with a phishing attack. 

In all fairness, our brain was not designed to remember long strings of characters without any significance to our personal lives. But that’s why password managers are so great! 

A password manager will store all your passwords in a secure location on your computer and you can even set it to automatically log into the stored accounts without revealing the password. This means you only have to remember one complex password – the one for the password manager!

3: Antivirus & VPN Software

Did you know most people don’t have an antivirus installed on their mobile devices? Smartphones know everything there is to know about us (our face, fingerprints, bank data, work accounts, whereabouts, and more). 

Yet, people refuse to install antivirus software or use a VPN when connecting to public WiFi networks under the premise that “it slows down the device”. In today’s day and age, new devices are fast and extremely capable of handling software designed to protect against prying eyes. 

Key Takeaways

When it comes to identity theft and cyber-attacks, prevention is the best step we can take. We have the tools, but we also need to learn how to use them. 

For instance, some business owners argue that increased security means a slower check out process and even slower communication channels (due to the high level of encryption). However, there are ways to improve business security without spoiling the customer experience. All it takes is to research the topic or have a chat with a cybersecurity specialist.

Plus, increased security shows your customers you are interested in their well-being and are willing to invest in creating a safe online environment for them.