Staying safe online can be tricky nowadays.
You'll never know if you're just a click away from an unwanted virus or spam or if you're credit card information in your favorite online shop has been stolen while you were dreaming of the upcoming packages you'll receive tomorrow.
Have you ever had your identity stolen online?
How sure are you that every information you have online is in safe hands?
Early last year, a public-school teacher named Mark Joseph Lontok had a regret of posting his Professional Regulation Commission ID through his Facebook account as a celebration of passing the Board Exams. His identity was then stolen from him and now he is reportedly in debt with almost a million pesos for an identity thief used it to make loans with three banks.
Basic Internet Tips to Stay Safe Online
Whether you are using your computer at home, in school or in the workplace, you need to protect your online identity. Here are some tips to protect yourself and/or your organization from identity theft:
TIP 1: Avoid having one password for all of your online accounts.
Did you know that using the same password for all accounts you have online is more prone to hacking? Thus, always use a different password for each online account you own.
TIP 2: Make your password unique.
And not your birthday or the initials of your name just because it's easy to remember.
According to IT security experts, they recommend creating a password that is a combination of both lowercase and uppercase letters, digits and, if possible, common punctuation marks and even ASCII symbols.
However, avoid pattern combinations such as "A1B23C4D." Instead, think of a long, complicated, words-number-character combination for your password that will make not make sense but is guaranteed unique.
Let's take "Juan1234", it would take no time before this can be cracked. But if you're going to use something that goes along with these passwords, "Pusod_ng_garapata_1968" and "Guwapong_Arabuhok_1979," it's safe to say that you have the passwords that are hard to hack.
TIP 3: Use password managers and two-factor authentication.
The password management systems help to strengthen your unique password by encrypting it while two-factor authentication only grants you access to your account after you successfully hurdle a series of authentication processes.
An example of two-step verification process is one of the security features of Google where you can add your contact number and a code will be sent on your phone and you have to input it before you can access the Gmail account.
Encryption of your password and more complicated authentication processes makes it hard for hackers to hack your password.
TIP 4: Beware of FREE WI-FI.
Free internet connection available on public spaces, 'free wi-fi,' is a haven for hackers for they can easily get an access to your account. Every time you open any of your accounts using free internet connection, you're letting someone know your login credentials. This is especially crucial when you're accessing bank accounts online.
As much as possible, it's better to stay away from the temptation of checking your social media accounts at such public spaces to avoid identity theft.
TIP 5: Be care what your mouse clicks on.
There are times that we become agitated that we mistakenly click on pop-up ads or get curious with anonymous files and attachments and click it only to realize that these are potential carriers of viruses that could harm your computer too.
What's worse is that this may contain the ability to make your accounts highly vulnerable to identity theft. It's ideal that you avoid opening such files and delete it right away.
TIP 6: Check the padlock icon and the certificate.
Especially if you're using a credit card account on an e-commerce site.
One of the common traits of a website that could be easily hacked or may bring the virus to your device is the lack of security on the website itself- the padlock icon and the certification you see after typing the URL. Always make sure that you are entering a website that wouldn't cause harm to your personal information.
TIP 7: Check the e-mail addresses.
Always remember that outgoing e-mail will show the sender's e-mail address. An incoming e-mail will not display the sender's e-mail address.
TIP 8: Safeguard your computer.
Check the anti-virus software on your computer and ensure that it's always the latest version to prevent your computer from being an easy target for viruses.
TIP 9: Be careful what you post.
Think before you click.
There's nothing wrong to post updates about the significant events on your life, but always be careful on the information you put or post online (e.g. job location and position, the place you're currently living).
Filter the things you want to post online because you don't want to go home to an empty house after posting that you'll be away for a grand vacation to a wonderful place.
TIP 10: Do not ever post your ID's online.
Especially your government ID's such as BIR, SSS and TIN ID's.
These ID's are the primary sources of your identity in the Philippines. Letting people know the information written on such IDs online is prone to identity theft similar to what happened to Mark Joseph Lontok.
Use your credit report to borrow money
Beginning next year, Filipinos should be able to borrow money from financial institutions based on their credit-worthiness. This shall be made possible with the help of credit information system of the Credit Information System (CIC).