How To Protect Your Identity Online - 12 Simple Steps (2023)

How To Protect Your Identity Online - 12 Simple Steps (1)

Brandon King


How To Protect Your Identity Online - 12 Simple Steps (2)

March 30, 2023

What if protecting your identity online was easier than you thought?

At first glance, figuring out how to protect your identity online feels like a monumental and complicated task. You know it’s important, but where do you even begin?

That’s where these 12 simple steps come in.

If you put all of these into practice, stealing your identity would be a near impossibility. And you can act on most of these in as little as a few hours.

So, if protecting your identity online is something you’ve been meaning to get around to, there’s no better time than now. Here’s how:

1. Invest In an ID Theft Protection Service: Takes 15 Minutes

If you only do one thing after reading this article, this should be it. Purchase an ID theft protection service plan, and you’ll protect your entire digital footprint in one easy step.

Good ID theft protection services like AURA or Norton Lifelock watch the internet for signs of identity theft, so you don’t have to. That means they provide monitoring for your:

  • Social Security number
  • Credit score
  • Home title
  • Financial transactions
  • Public Records

They’ll also watch for USPS address changes, payday loans taken in your name, and social media accounts using your name or image.

On top of that, these services usually offer antivirus software that blocks spyware, viruses, and phishing scams while you’re browsing the internet. So, if you’re serious about protecting your identity, first and foremost, you should be using one of these.

2. Ensure You’re Using an Encrypted Connection: Takes 1 Minute

Check out the left-hand side of your address bar, right next to the website URL

How To Protect Your Identity Online - 12 Simple Steps (3)

See that little lock symbol?

Good. That means the site you’re browsing is encrypted, ensuring any data you share is safe.

Encryption alters text, making it near impossible for someone with ill intent to read. So, if you enter a password, credit card number, or any personal information, it’s safe.

When encryption isn’t present, cybercriminals can read and steal any information you enter. So, ensuring your connection is encrypted is crucial, especially if you’re shopping, online banking, or filling out forms.

If you want to go a step further than basic encryption, you could also consider a Virtual Private Network or VPN.

VPNs ensure your data is encrypted on every site. They also conceal your IP address. That means even your internet service provider (ISP) can’t see your online activity.

You can install VPNs as stand-alone software or opt to include one with your identity theft protection service. Services like AURA and Norton LifeLock both offer VPNs with their identity theft protection plans.

3. Create Strong Passwords: Takes 5 Minutes

Creating strong passwords is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your identity online.

A strong password:

  • Uses a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. If the site allows a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols like “!” or “?”, use all of them in your password.
  • Does not use words or numbers associated with you. That means no birthdates, addresses, pet names, or children’s names.
  • Is not a password you’re already using on another site. Your email password should be different from your banking password, and neither of those should match your Facebook password, etc.
  • Changes regularly. You should change your password on a regular basis, as often as 3-4 times per year.

At this point, you’re probably thinking all that sounds great, but there’s just one problem…

If I use a random combination of letters, words, and symbols not associated with me in any way and I change it regularly —How do I remember it?!

Two words: Password Manager.

Password managers auto-generate and securely store passwords for you, so you don’t have to remember them for each site. Plus, most of them will remind you to update your passwords regularly.

Password managers may come with your phone or your internet browser. For example, Google has a password manager that you can use across devices, from your phone to your laptop, as long as you’re using Android or Chrome.

(Video) Ways to Protect your Online Identity from Computer Hackers!

4. Use 2 Factor (Or Multi Factor) Authentication: Takes 5 Minutes

You should also opt-in for 2-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (Multi FA) whenever a site offers it. 2FA requires you to provide two forms of identification to log-in to your accounts. Multi-factor authentication requires you to provide at least two and sometimes more identification forms at login.

There are several types of 2FA and Multi FA available for sites to use, but you’re most likely to run into either SMS verification or push notifications.

With SMS verification you’ll receive a text message when you try to log into a site. The text will contain a code that you need to enter along with your regular password.

Push notifications send a signal to your phone prompting you to accept or deny a login attempt.

Both options prevent cybercriminals from accessing personal accounts. Even if a criminal manages to steal your password, unless they have your cell phone in hand, they can’t get in.

2FA or MFA are available for online banking and most social media sites. They’re also common on popular e-commerce sites that store your credit card information. Wherever you see it as an option, you should opt-in.

5. Set Up Bank Alerts: Takes 5 Minutes

You may be able to stop an identity thief in their tracks by setting up bank alerts with your financial institution. Allowing the bank to alert you or freeze your account when they notice suspicious activity could stop a criminal from stealing your money or doing other damage.

Many banks also allow you to set up daily or weekly notifications. With these in place, the bank can send you a daily or weekly summary of your accounts.

Regularly review your accounts for transactions you don’t recognize. If you find one, let your bank know so they can take action.

6. Avoid Phishy Emails, Attachments, and Links: Takes 0 Minutes

When cybercriminals pretend to be trustworthy entities, like banks, government institutions, or hiring managers for large companies, we call it phishing.

In a phishing scam, you might receive an email, text, phone call, or social media message that looks legitimate but isn’t. The message may ask for personal information like your social security number or banking information. Or, it may include a link or attachment that installs malware on your device.

To avoid phishing scams:

  • Only open emails and messages from senders you know and trust.
  • Don’t give any personal information unless you trust the sender and are sure it’s necessary.

Government entities like the IRS will never email or call you for tax information, and your bank probably isn’t going to ask for your social security number through a text. If you’re not sure, call the institution directly and let them know what’s going on.

7. Make Sure Your Router Has a Secure Password: Takes 7 Minutes

Many of us choose to have professionals set up our WiFi. When they do, they usually make our passwords something easy to remember. More often than not, they use a phone number or birthdate. That may be convenient, but if your wireless router has an easy (aka weak) password, you should change it.

Here’s why…

All of your devices connect to your router to get online. If a criminal can access your router, they can monitor all of your internet traffic and may be able to access your connected devices too.

In some cases, they can even set things so that when you connect to the internet through that router, you end up on a phishing site. A phishing site looks legitimate, but thieves have access to the information you enter on it.

That’s why having a secure password for your router is crucial. Use the tips we gave for strong passwords above.

8. Configure Your Web Browser Correctly: Takes 5 Minutes

How To Protect Your Identity Online - 12 Simple Steps (4)

Identity thieves may be able to use vulnerabilities in your web browser to gather your private information.

Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to help prevent this:

(Video) The Dark Side of the Web: Staying Safe in the Digital World

  • Keep your browser up to date. If your browser recommends an update, download it. Better yet, opt-in for automatic updates.
  • Block pop-ups and plugins. Usually, you can do this in your browser’s security settings.
  • Turn off autofill for forms and payment information. Criminals can install invisible auto-fill forms to web pages and easily gain your information.

9. Only Enable Cookies If You Must: Takes 3 Minutes

Cookies aren’t bad overall. You need them for certain sites to run correctly. However, too many cookies can create security risks.

Savvy cybercriminals can hijack your cookies. Doing so allows them to impersonate you online. They can gain unauthorized access to the sites you frequent.

So, when you see the “accept cookies” banner on a website, think twice before saying yes.

If cookies are necessary for the site to work properly, go ahead and allow them. If they’re not, you can always click “reject.”

Now and then, you should also delete your cookies from your browsing history. Doing so may log you out of sites you frequent.

Is logging back in frustrating?

Maybe, but it’s worth the extra security. And, if you use your password manager (like we mentioned you should) it shouldn’t be too hard.

10. Audit Your Online Presence and Credit Score: Takes 30 Minutes

If someone hacks into your Twitter account or starts racking up charges on your credit card, you’ll probably notice right away. But here’s the thing…

Most of your online identity isn’t so obvious.

The vast majority of your digital footprint is hard to see, and you might not realize a thief is already using your information.

To ensure cybercriminals aren’t already taking advantage, here are a few things you can do:

  • Use a site like UnMask to run a background check on yourself. If you see anything online that shouldn’t be, you can take steps to get rid of it.
  • Check your credit report. Per FTC rules, you’re entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. So get one! Then check it for inaccuracies. If you find any, reach out to the credit reporting company and relevant financial institutions.
  • Delete unused accounts. If you’ve been online for any length of time, you probably have a bunch of social media, store, and other accounts you don’t use anymore. Your web browser’s password manager can provide a list of sites you’ve used it for. If you’re not using those accounts, go through and delete them.

11. Be Mindful of What You Share: Takes 10 Minutes

Social media seems like an innocent way to share news with caring family and friends. Whether it’s the birth of your first child or a silly selfie with your cat, sharing with people online is standard practice today. However, it’s not without risks.

How To Protect Your Identity Online - 12 Simple Steps (5)

Sharing too much information on social media sites gives identity thieves everything they need to wreak havoc on your life. We’re not saying you should give up Instagram or Facebook altogether, but you should be mindful of what you post.

Here’s how:

  • Never share your address. That means you should think twice before posting a picture of you in front of your new house!
  • Don’t share your children’s names, pet names, or birthdates. These are common security questions and passwords (though you should be using stronger passwords, like we mentioned above).

Plus, sharing a child’s name and birthdate together makes them vulnerable to identity theft. One day, your child will apply for financial aid or a credit card. The last thing you want to discover is that someone stole their identity because of something you posted.

Learn more: Internet Safety for Children: Tips to Keep Kids Safe Online.

  • Be careful of images. Make sure pictures don’t include private information in any way. Sometimes private details slip into the background without our realizing.

If you’re thinking, well, my account’s private, so I’m not worried about all of the above

That’s not enough!

Keeping your account private is a great security measure, but you should still follow the above best practices.

You should also opt-in for 2-factor identification if possible. 2-factor identification can feel like a pain when you’re logging in, but, as we discussed above, it’s worth the hassle.

(Video) 10 Privacy Tips For Protecting Your Identity And Avoiding Identity Theft

12. Watch For Data Breaches: Takes 10 Minutes

Criminal hackers usually target big businesses, governments, and healthcare facilities. Usually, they’re looking for sensitive data that they can sell. That often includes personal information for private citizens.

If your information is involved in a data breach, the company is required to inform you by law, but that can take time. And when it comes to protecting your identity, acting fast is everything,

Larger data breach events usually make the news. If you hear about one that could have put your information at risk, here’s what you can do:

  • Change your password immediately. Depending on the extent of the breach, changing your password for the affected site or institution could be enough to stop an identity thief.
  • Monitor your credit report. Keep tabs on your credit report and watch for any unusual activity. If you notice anything, report it right away.
  • Consider freezing your credit report. You can freeze your credit if you suspect that criminals have your information. Doing so isn’t without cost, though. You usually can’t apply for any sort of financing while your credit is frozen, so this only works in some situations.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to protect your identity online isn’t as hard as some make it appear. What seems like a huge chore is actually a pretty simple task. Using the actionable steps listed above will help you ensure your personal information stays secure.

And if you’re afraid it’s already too late, there are things you can do. Start by reading our guide on the warning signs that your identity has been stolen. It will walk you through the symptoms of identity theft and give you tips on what to do next.

Read Also:

  • Internet Privacy and Security
  • The Problems and Danger of Posting Photos on Social Media


How To Protect Your Identity Online - 12 Simple Steps? ›

Most people store a lot of personal information on their computers. If you don't protect your computer properly when you're online, it's possible that personal details could be stolen or deleted without your knowledge. Your computer can be attacked in a number of ways over the internet.

What are the 10 basic rules in protecting yourself online? ›

Here are our 10 most important tips for staying safe online.
  • Don't open mail from strangers. ...
  • Make sure your devices are up to date. ...
  • Use strong passwords. ...
  • Use two-factor authentication. ...
  • Don't click on strange-looking links. ...
  • Avoid using unsecured public Wi-Fi. ...
  • Back up your data regularly. ...
  • Be smart with financial information.

How can you protect your online identity? ›

4 ways to protect your online identity
  1. Use strong passwords to protect your accounts. ...
  2. Avoid sharing personal information online. ...
  3. Monitor and protect your network. ...
  4. Be mindful of granting rights to applications, websites and other online services.
Oct 11, 2022

What are 3 ways to protect yourself online? ›

Five things to do to protect yourself online
  • Lock down your online accounts. Your password is the key to all the personal information in your account. ...
  • Secure your home Wi-Fi network. ...
  • Protect your computer and phone. ...
  • Recognize attempts to steal your personal information. ...
  • Back things up.
Oct 4, 2022

What steps can be taken to keep your online identity password safe? ›

The 10 Best Ways to Secure Your Online Identity
  1. Install Security Suites. ...
  2. Check Encryption on Applications Before Use. ...
  3. Create Strong Passwords. ...
  4. Install Web Browser Blacklisting. ...
  5. Use Private Data Protection. ...
  6. Enable Only Vital Browser Cookies. ...
  7. Delete Existing Cookies. ...
  8. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi.
Aug 4, 2022

What are the 8 tips to stay safe online? ›

10 ways to stay safe online
  • Get the latest anti-virus and firewall software. ...
  • Update your internet browser. ...
  • Create a strong and easy-to-remember password. ...
  • Use a different password to the one you use for other services. ...
  • Change your password on a regular basis. ...
  • Never share your password.

What are the 15 digital safety rules? ›

Top 15 Internet Safety Rules for Everyone
  • Keep your confidential data offline.
  • Check a website's reliability.
  • Use a strong password.
  • Use two-factor authentication.
  • Avoid suspicious online links.
  • Keep your computer updated.
  • Beware of free Wi-Fi and downloads.
  • Double check online information.

What are 5 things you can do online to protect your privacy? ›

  • TIP#1. Create strong passwords. ...
  • TIP#2. Never use the same password on multiple accounts. ...
  • TIP#3. Lock your device. ...
  • TIP#4. Always log out of browsers. ...
  • TIP#5. Make sure there is an https in the browser address bar. ...
  • TIP#6. Do not log in on personal accounts on free or public wifi. ...
  • TIP#7. Install an Anti-Virus…and update it. ...
  • TIP#8.

How can I protect my identity? ›

Identity theft can happen to anyone, but you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim by taking some simple steps to protect your personal information.
  1. Keep Your Personal Information Secure. ...
  2. Monitor Your Credit Reports, Bank and Credit Accounts. ...
  3. Ask Questions Before You Share Your Information.

What are the basic rules and protecting yourself online? ›

7 Tips for Protecting Yourself Online
  • Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. ...
  • Set strong passwords. ...
  • Watch out for phishing scams. ...
  • Keep personal information personal. ...
  • Secure your internet connection. ...
  • Shop safely. ...
  • Read the site's privacy policies.

What are the top 5 ways you can protect yourself from cyber attacks? ›

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from cyber attacks.
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious links, attachments, and downloads. ...
  • Create and use strong passwords. ...
  • Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. ...
  • Use secure internet communications. ...
  • Update your anti-virus software regularly.

Why should I protect myself online? ›

Most people store a lot of personal information on their computers. If you don't protect your computer properly when you're online, it's possible that personal details could be stolen or deleted without your knowledge. Your computer can be attacked in a number of ways over the internet.

How do I stay safe in secured online? ›

How to Stay Safe Online
  1. Don't share personal information.
  2. Double-check and verify links.
  3. Use secure public Wi-Fi.
  4. Use a VPN.
  5. Be careful who you chat with.
  6. Turn off your Bluetooth.
  7. Use antivirus software.
  8. Use secure passwords.

What are 5 online safety issues? ›

Common concerns regarding safety of the internet include malicious users (spam, phishing, cyberbullying, cyberstalking etc.), websites and software ( malware, computer virus, etc.) and various types of obscene or offensive content.

What not to do online? ›

The 5 Things You Should Never Do Online
  • Respond to Spam. ...
  • Shop on Unsecured Networks. ...
  • Download Suspicious Apps. ...
  • Save Your Passwords in the Browser. ...
  • Share Work and Location Information.

What are the 7 basic safety rules? ›

Basic Safety Rules
  • Always wear your seatbelt when in a vehicle or heavy equipment. ...
  • Always inspect equipment and tools. ...
  • Always use fall protection when working at heights. ...
  • Stay of out the blind spots of heavy equipment. ...
  • Never put yourself in the line of fire. ...
  • Utilize proper housekeeping measures to keep work areas clean.
Nov 22, 2019

What are the 4 C's online safety? ›

The guidance states that whilst the breadth of issues classified within online safety is considerable and ever-evolving, they can be categorised into four areas of risk; content, contact, conduct and commerce.

What are the three 3 major Internet privacy issues? ›

But the “top 3” privacy issues with most data breaches are “tracking, hacking and trading.” Let's take a closer look at each one and see how it impacts your privacy.

What are 3 safety tips for computer security? ›

Ten Basic Computer Security Tips
  • Use Effective Passwords and Change Them Regularly. ...
  • Secure Wireless Networks. ...
  • Install, Maintain and Apply Antivirus Programs. ...
  • Install and Use a Firewall. ...
  • Don't Open Emails or Attachments from Unknown Sources. ...
  • Do Not Install Unnecessary Programs. ...
  • Control Access to Computer Equipment.

How do I keep my data private? ›

15 Tips to Keep Your Data Private
  1. Create strong passwords. ...
  2. Click, open, and answer carefully. ...
  3. Confirm website security. ...
  4. Avoid oversharing on social media. ...
  5. Be conscious of privacy settings on your accounts. ...
  6. Close your account on any services you no longer use. ...
  7. Pay attention to the permissions that apps ask for.

What are 5 things that should never be posted online to protect your safety? ›

Sharing sensitive information such as your address, phone number, family members' names, car information, passwords, work history, credit status, social security numbers, birth date, school names, passport information, driver's license numbers, insurance policy numbers, loan numbers, credit/ debit card numbers, PIN ...

What are 5 things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft? ›

Below are a few key steps you can take to prevent identity theft online:
  • Protect your computer and smartphone with strong, up-to-date security software. ...
  • Learn to spot spam and scams. ...
  • Use strong passwords. ...
  • Monitor your credit scores. ...
  • Review your credit score. ...
  • Freeze your credit.

What are six ways your identity can be stolen? ›

steal your mail or garbage to get your account numbers or your Social Security number. trick you into sending personal information in an email. steal your account numbers from a business or medical office. steal your wallet or purse to get your personal information.

How do I check to see if someone is using my Social Security number? ›

Review the earnings posted to your record on your Social Security Statement and report any inconsistencies to us. Contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 1-800-908-4490 or visit them online, if you believe someone is using your SSN to work, get your tax refund, or other abuses involving taxes.

What are the top 3 most common cyber attacks? ›

What are the 10 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks?
  • Phishing.
  • Spoofing.
  • Identity-Based Attacks.
  • Code Injection Attacks.
  • Supply Chain Attacks.
  • Insider Threats.
  • DNS Tunneling.
  • IoT-Based Attacks.
Feb 13, 2023

What are the top 10 cyber crime prevention tips we discussed? ›

How to protect yourself against cybercrime
  • Use a full-service internet security suite. ...
  • Use strong passwords. ...
  • Keep your software updated. ...
  • Manage your social media settings. ...
  • Strengthen your home network. ...
  • Talk to your children about the internet. ...
  • Keep up to date on major security breaches.
Aug 15, 2020

What is the most common threat on the internet? ›

Computer Viruses

Computer viruses are the most common among internet security threats out there. Viruses enter your computers by attaching to a host file or a system. Once they enter your computer, they can create damage instantly or remain dormant.

What are the best practices for Internet security? ›

Using strong passwords, updating your software, thinking before you click on suspicious links, and turning on multi-factor authentication are the basics of what we call “cyber hygiene” and will drastically improve your online safety. These cybersecurity basics apply to both individuals and organizations.

What 7 a set of rules for proper online behavior? ›

Ten rules of internet etiquette
  • Rule 1: Remember the Human. ...
  • Rule 2: Be ethical. ...
  • Rule 3: Know where you are. ...
  • Rule 4: Respect other people's time and data limits. ...
  • Rule 5: Make yourself look good online. ...
  • Rule 6: Share expert knowledge. ...
  • Rule 7: Keep disagreement healthy. ...
  • Rule 8: Respect other people's privacy.
Mar 15, 2023

What are the online safety rules? ›

Cybersecurity 101: 7 Basic Internet Safety Tips
  • Protect Your Personal Information With Strong Passwords. ...
  • Keep Personal Information Private. ...
  • Make Sure Your Devices Are Secure. ...
  • Pay Attention to Software Updates. ...
  • Be Careful About Wifi. ...
  • Set Up Two-Factor Authentication. ...
  • Back Up Your Personal Data.

What are the 12 ethical guidelines? ›

Generally, there are about 12 ethical principles: honesty, fairness, leadership, integrity, compassion, respect, responsibility, loyalty, law-abiding, transparency, and environmental concerns.

What is 5 cyber safety tips? ›

4 Things You Can Do To Keep Yourself Cyber Safe
  • Turn on Multifactor Authentication. Implement multifactor authentication on your accounts and make it significantly less likely you'll get hacked.
  • Update Your Software. Update your software. ...
  • Think Before You Click. Think before you click. ...
  • Use Strong Passwords.
Dec 18, 2022

What is the golden rule when online? ›

When communicating electronically, whether through email, instant message, discussion post, text, or some other method, practice the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Remember, your written words are read by real people, all deserving of respectful communication.

What is the rule 5 make yourself look good online? ›

Rule 5: Make yourself look good online

Networks -- particularly discussion groups -- let you reach out to people you'd otherwise never meet. And none of them can see you. You won't be judged by the color of your skin, eyes, or hair, your weight, your age, or your clothing.

What is the golden rule of online etiquette? ›

The golden rule of netiquette in an online class or environment is, do not do or say online what you would not do or say offline.

What are the 20 safety rules? ›

20 most important safety rules in the workplace
  • Follow the dress code. ...
  • Wear safety gear. ...
  • Maintain personal hygiene. ...
  • Take responsibility for your personal safety. ...
  • Maintain a clean workspace. ...
  • Follow work procedures. ...
  • Learn how to act in an emergency. ...
  • Report accidents if they occur.
Mar 10, 2023


1. BVA: Tips To Protect Your Online Identity
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2. How to Protect Your Personal and Financial Information from Identity Theft
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3. 12 Ways to Protect Your Home While You’re Away
4. 10 Online Holiday Shopping Tips to Protect Your Identity
(Carrie Kerskie)
5. Five Ways to Protect Your Identity and Online Privacy
(Identity Theft Consultants)
6. Protecting your Digital Identity: A Beginner's Guide


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