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Simple Common Sense Tips to Protect Your Wireless Devices from Identity Theft


Simple Common Sense Tips to Protect Your Wireless Devices from Identity Theft

Identity theft is a huge problem today. It seems like every week we hear about another data breach or hack. Our personal information is constantly at risk. But there are some simple, common sense things you can do to better protect your wireless devices. Follow these tips, and you’ll greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

Use Strong Passwords

This one seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many people still use weak passwords like “password123” or “123456.” Those are super easy for hackers to guess. Instead, make your passwords long, complex, and unique for each account. Aim for at least 12 characters mixing upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Consider using a password manager app to generate and store strong passwords. This makes it easy to use unique ones everywhere without having to remember them all. LastPass and 1Password are great options.

Turn On Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security beyond just a password. It requires you to enter a randomly generated code from your phone or an authenticator app when logging in. This prevents a hacker from accessing your account even if they somehow get your password. Most major sites and apps like Gmail, Facebook, and Amazon support two-factor authentication. Turn it on for any that offer it.

Keep Software Updated

Always install the latest updates for your operating system, apps, and security software. Developers constantly release patches to fix vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit. Failing to update leaves you open to attacks. Set your devices to automatically install updates when available. Don’t ignore those update reminders!

Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops, hotels, airports etc. are super convenient. But they’re also highly risky! Hackers can easily eavesdrop on traffic on public networks. Never access sensitive accounts or data when connected to public Wi-Fi. Instead, use your phone’s cellular data or a VPN.

Use a VPN

Speaking of VPNs, these services route your traffic through an encrypted tunnel. This hides your online activity and prevents snooping on public networks. NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and TunnelBear are excellent options. VPNs also allow you to change your virtual location, which helps bypass geo-restricted content.

Beware of Phishing Scams

Phishing scams try to trick you into entering your login credentials on fake websites. Avoid clicking links or downloading attachments in unsolicited emails. Also watch out for text messages that ask you to verify account details. Go directly to the company’s website if you need to login.

Monitor Your Accounts

Keep a close eye on financial statements and account activity. Immediately report any unauthorized charges or suspicious logins. Many banks and services let you set up alerts for certain types of activity. Turn those on to be notified of anything fishy right away.

Limit App Permissions

Be stingy when apps request access to contacts, photos, location, etc. Only allow what is absolutely necessary. For example, a flashlight app shouldn’t need your contacts. Limiting permissions prevents apps from accessing more of your data than required.

Avoid Public Charging Stations

It may be tempting to juice up your phone at public USB charging stations. But hackers can modify these to install malware on your device when plugged in. Only use your own cables and chargers. Or at least have a USB data blocker installed to prevent data transfer.

Turn Off Bluetooth When Not in Use

Bluetooth allows nearby devices to discover and communicate with each other wirelessly. Turn it off when you’re not actively using it to connect headphones or other accessories. This prevents hackers from potentially accessing your phone via Bluetooth.

Secure Your Home Wi-Fi Network

Your home Wi-Fi should have a long, random password that only trusted people know. This keeps unauthorized devices from connecting. Also change your router’s default admin credentials. Limit Wi-Fi range by placing the router centrally in your home, instead of near windows where signals can leak outside. Turn off remote administrative access if not needed.

Set Up Remote Wipe

Losing your phone or having it stolen is bad enough. You don’t also want your personal data ending up in the wrong hands. Set up remote wipe capabilities through your device manager account or security app, like Find My Device for Android. This lets you remotely lock the device and erase all data if it’s ever lost or compromised.

Encrypt Your Devices

Encrypting your smartphone and laptop secures all the data stored on them. You’ll need to enter a PIN or password on each boot to decrypt the data. This protects your personal files and information in case your device is lost, stolen or compromised. It’s worth the minor inconvenience!

Avoid Oversharing on Social Media

Be very careful about how much personal information you post on social media. Criminals can use details like your birthday, address, school names, and vacation locations to impersonate you or steal your identity. Keep social media profiles set to private, and limit sharing of personal details.

Secure Your Home Wi-Fi Router

Many people never change the default password on their Wi-Fi routers. This allows anyone within range to connect and potentially access your devices and data. Set a strong password only you know. Also disable remote administrative access if not needed, limit Wi-Fi range, and turn off WPS.

Use Credit Cards Over Debit Cards

Credit cards have much stronger fraud protection than debit cards. The money is not directly taken from your bank account if your credit card number gets stolen. With debit cards, stolen card numbers can drain your checking account. Using credit cards limits your liability. Just be sure to pay on time!

Monitor Your Credit Reports

Keep a close eye on your credit by checking your reports regularly. Many services like Credit Karma now offer free credit monitoring. Watch for any accounts or inquiries you don’t recognize, which could indicate identity theft. Also consider freezing your credit to prevent criminals from opening new accounts in your name.

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