The internet has opened up endless windows of opportunity for technological development and advancement, and there is no doubt it has forever changed the way people connect, communicate, and interact with each other. Unfortunately, the internet also opens up plenty of avenues for overexposure, and it can leave people vulnerable to cyber-attacks, identity theft, and more.
Statistics have shown that more than 11 million Americans are affected by identity theft each year. Identity theft is defined as unauthorized acquisition and use of a person’s private information, usually for some form of financial or economical gain. Hackers have ways of using the internet to access private information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, financial records, and other identifying details of unsuspecting individuals and using that information for any number of fraudulent activities.
Individuals are not the only targets when it comes to identity theft. Small businesses and large corporations alike are suspect to cyber-attacks. In 2011, Sony’s PlayStation Network was hacked, and it’s reported that some seventy seven million personal accounts were affected by the attack thus putting the customer’s personal information in danger of being used for fraud.
As if these cyber-attacks weren’t enough, the internet has also become a public place for people to spread rumors, bully, post slander, and defame the name and character of businesses and individuals without much regulation. The i-SAFE Foundation reports that one out of three people have experienced some form of cyber bullying. Stories of teens who take their own lives on account of cyber threats and bullying are sadly becoming more and more common. Bullies are hiding behind anonymous internet handles and causing profound damage by slinging threats, stalking, and harassing their targets online.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps people can take to help prevent these cyber-attacks and protect themselves from hackers and bullies. One of the easiest things one can do to protect their private information is to create unique passwords for each internet account. An ideal password will contain both upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. It should be at least eight characters long, and it’s a good idea to change it every few months. Avoid using the same password for every account, and don’t store passwords and usernames in the same place.
To avoid instances of cyber bullying and stalking, get familiar with the security features of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. By exploring the advanced settings, one can restrict their profile from being viewed by the general public. This is a great way to keep unwanted individuals from posting comments or viewing their history.
While these actions are good starting points, they are not fool-proof. Hackers and bullies alike know how to get around these safety measures, and can still wreak havoc on someone despite their best efforts to protect themselves. This is where websites like reputation.com can come in to play. Their goal is to protect people and businesses from attacks, and provide individuals key insight on things like who is talking about them online, who is viewing their information, and much more.
Using a service like this is like having an entire army of allies to monitor the internet and notify them when someone mentions them online or sells their personal information. It can also protect small businesses by helping them monitor posts that are made about them and provides many resources for managing their online presence. Research shows that online reviews play a large part in the decisions consumers make, so this type of awareness can have a large impact on a company’s bottom line.
Maintaining a proactive stance is imperative to protecting oneself online. Staying one step ahead of hackers and bullies can prove to be the best way to avoid falling victim to attacks. The World Wide Web may be vast, but it isn’t impossible to keep private information out of the wrong hands!