A trip to the beach this past summer gave me yet another new perspective on sharing information online. Think of the World Wide Web as an ocean: its vast deepness invisible to us on the surface. Now imagine your personal information is a baby sea turtle. Stay with me, because your personally identifiable information has an awful lot in common with this very vulnerable, easily exploited prey.
Online, your information must run the gauntlet of cybersecurity threats from social engineering to malware — much as the turtle, during the initial trek from the nest to the ocean, must safely make their way past crabs, seagulls and other predators. Even if the fragile creatures make it to the ocean, what await them there are other bigger and fiercer predators.
Perhaps this analogy between your sensitive data and a baby turtle seems farfetched. But the point is to get you to reconsider how you’re protecting your information online. As you’re not likely to decide to avoid going online altogether — 87 percent of Americans are Web users — how you handle your information is becoming even more critical.
You need a real plan.
What does a real plan look like in this age of compromised data?
To begin with, it dismisses with the idea that anything related to personally identifiable information (PII) is unexpected. Instead, it anticipates exposure — considering all the possible gaps that could impact your information. Simultaneously, your plan must be realistic.
This plan requires two basic components: your actions and the actions of your identity protection service.
What is your role in protecting your data online?
Start by browsing the Internet on a secure computer, equipped with firewalls, a full suite of anti-virus protection including pop-up blockers and updated with the latest software. Once online, your priority is to responsibly handle your information — a tall order considering all the places your data resides.
What does it mean to be responsible with PII?
How you share your information is a critical part of your responsibility. Always consider the type of information you’re sharing, who needs it, why they need it and the ways it’s being used. Only provide such information to reputable and trusted entities through encrypted sites to which you have password-protected access — giving special attention to creating strong, lengthy passwords.
Take advantage of a reputable online password manager (such as EZShield Secure Online Wallet, which is included with EZShield basic protection) to keep track of your accounts and their respective passwords and usernames. A secure password manager services as critical backup to remind you of your online accounts and easily update your passwords as needed.
If you make any payments online, your virtual transactions must be monitored diligently. That means you should review your bank and credit account statements frequently to ensure there are no inaccuracies. Then if you notice errors, you can be sure to address them as quickly as possible.
Need more motivation to be attentive? Consider the LexisNexis study that revealed 42 percent of online payments in 2013 resulted in fraud — an extraordinary disproportion given online sales only account for 6.4 percent of overall sales according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
What about your email habits?
Do you verify the authenticity of senders? Hover over the email address to make sure it’s familiar. Do you click on links within emails? Only click if you are certain of the source. Better yet, type Web addresses into your browser directly.
How much does your time impact your actions?
In the midst of taking these steps to protect your information, you also have a life: a job, a family and other activities that keep you busy. You don’t have time to monitor all aspects of your data around the clock. Even if you did have the free time, would you want to spend it stalking your information as it travels 24/7?
What is the role of your service provider?
Your service is here to back you up, and to assist you when you need it most and monitor your information continuously. It is an integral extension of everything you’re doing to safeguard your data.
A strong service provider like EZShield will alert you if your sensitive data is detected on the black market. Plus, Resolution Specialists are available to guide you through identity-related concerns, as well as suspected or known fraud impacting you.
What are the greatest benefits a service like EZShield delivers?
Improved peace of mind that comes from valuable products and real-time assistance is the ultimate benefit. If a fraud event occurs, you won’t be wondering “Now what?” Instead, you’ll contact your Resolution Specialist to begin restoring your identity. So coupled with reducing your anxiety, you gain convenience. Your time is precious and responding to potential threats is imperative. To have a service that saves you countless hours while helping protect your identity is invaluable.
Given the many forms of fraud and identity theft that can compromise your data, having a service dedicated to protecting and restoring your PII is just the kind of proactive and reactive approach you need.
You are your own best advocate. EZShield is your best plan of action.
• Equip all your devices with full anti-virus protection and updated software
• Only make purchases and provide information through secure sites
• Be mindful of the emails you receive and interact with
• Monitor your bank and card accounts frequently
• Take advantage of EZShield’s comprehensive fraud solutions
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.