By now you understand that my dad’s technological capabilities are somewhat of a running joke in the Sonageri family. He’s learning day by day, but the fact of the matter is he just doesn’t trust it. I actually agree with him on this point (shocking, I know). It horrifies me how accessible we all are on the internet. Read a previous post of mine here for my opinion on how social media has become so ubiquitous that our perception of relationships is actually changing. There is so much sensitive information on the web and way too many people who are capable and willing to hack the system to obtain it. Just this year FBI Director Robert Mueller declared that hackers are on their way to supplanting terrorists as the largest threat to national defense in the United States. You can read the Business Insider article here if you’d like. So what can you do to better protect yourself? Below are Dad’s solutions.
1. Be as private as you can on social media sites where appropriate.
This is a good way to limit your exposure in general and keep it among those for whom it was intended. For example, it is very difficult for a stranger to find me on Facebook unless we have many mutual friends. Even then, individuals don’t have access to my page until I approve them as a friend.
2. Do not use online banking.
It might make life simpler, but it’s also much simpler for a hacker to get your information through this route than it is to hack into the bank’s records to get it. If the FBI director is scared of hackers for national security purposes, stealing my credit card number must be like taking candy from a baby.
3. Have a credit/debit account strictly for online purchases.
Online banking is avoidable for now, but it would prove too much of a hassle to avoid purchasing anything online at all. The best way to protect yourself is to have a separate account that you only use online. If it’s a credit card then put a limit on it and if it’s a debit card keep your account balance on the low-end.
4. Sign your name differently depending on the type of purchase.
This one is really clever and definitely my favorite. Something as simple as changing your signature is a perfect way to monitor fraud and a great back-up to prove the bank that a particular purchase could not have been made by you. For example, let’s say your name is John J. Doe. You might sign John J. Doe on all official documents, but only John Doe or J. Doe on credit card purchases. If someone gets your information and signs John J. Doe on a large purchase, you can easily verify that it was fraudulent.
5. Have a separate e-mail account for all online accounts and subscriptions.
This one is actually mine, not Dad’s, but I think it’s a no-brainer so I included it anyway. If you have a separate e-mail for your accounts and subscriptions and someone hacks it or gets your account information, you will still have a clean account with all of your other, more important e-mail that contains personal or work related messages. Having two e-mails is actually a huge time-saver also because I only have to check the important one frequently. My e-mail with my online accounts and subscriptions generally does not contain urgent messages and can be looked at once a day instead of throughout the day.