8 ways to show your digital identity some love

Protecting your digital identity: essential tips for online security and privacy

By Mark HoffmannKENOSHA.COM

A leader in the IT industry for nearly three decades, Hoffmann has helped small and large businesses take advantage of technology to better serve their customers and employees. Hoffmann is owner of CMIT Solutions of SE Wisconsin.

Valentine’s Day is most often associated with expressing love and appreciation for significant others, family members, and friends. But let’s not forget to show some love to ourselves, too—particularly our digital identities, which deserve the attention. 

In today’s interconnected world, safeguarding our online presence is critical to protect privacy and enhance security. Threats can come from anywhere: unwanted robocalls, illicit text messages, spam emails, and even Valentine’s Day-related offers.  

CMIT Solutions encourages everyone to take a moment to focus on themselves this week—and treat their digital identity with the care it deserves.

What is a digital identity?

The term encompasses everything we do online and the footprint this activity leaves behind. From social media profiles to online shopping accounts to Internet browser histories, our digital identity is a reflection of who we are and what we do. However, this footprint includes more than just a collection of data points. It’s a representation of our personal and professional lives, making the effective management of it even more important.

What’s the best way to strengthen your online presence?

Just as we invest time and effort into maintaining our physical well-being, it’s essential to dedicate attention to our digital well-being. Here are some practical tips to enhance and protect your digital identity:

  • Review and secure all online accounts. Start by conducting a thorough review of the most common apps and platforms you use for social media, email, banking, and other financial transactions. If you have unused or outdated accounts, deactivate or delete them to minimize your digital information and reduce the risk of unauthorized access.
     
  • Next, make your accounts safer by updating passwords and activating multi-factor authentication (MFA). Use strong, unique passwords for each account, and consider using an enterprise-grade password manager to securely store and manage your login credentials. Enhance the security of your accounts by enabling MFA wherever possible. MFA adds an extra layer of protection by requiring additional verification beyond just entering a password. This most commonly includes a unique code sent to your mobile device, biometric authentication via fingerprint or face ID scan, or a notification delivered from a single sign-on app.
     
  • Keep your personal information safe from cyberthreats. Use caution before sharing any personal information online, on the phone, or via email or text message. Only provide or confirm personal details when you know you’re communicating with a trusted and reputable source. Avoid oversharing on social media platforms and be wary of any request for birthdays, Social Security numbers, passwords, or addresses, especially if it arrives via an email or suspicious website.And never click on links or download attachments that come from unknown sources.
  • Enhance your understanding of the digital landscape. One month it’s robocalls. Another month it’s text messages. Then, spam emails start arriving out of the blue. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be for the next ransomware infection or identity theft attempt. Stay updated on the latest security practices recommended by trusted IT providers, and make sure everyone at your company has access to that education and training.
     
  • Regularly update software and devices. Keep your devices and software up to date with the latest recommended security patches and updates. Consider working with a trusted IT provider to automatically roll out critical operating system, application, and security software updates to ensure every piece of equipment is protected against emerging threats.
     
  • Practice safe online behavior. Mind your digital hygiene—at home and at work. Be mindful of the websites you visit, the digital ads you click on, the links you open, and the files you download. Never log in to sensitive accounts or conduct financial transactions while connected to public Wi-Fi networks. Any time you have to connect to an office network or transmit important files, use secure, encrypted connections and virtual private networks (VPNs) when possible.
     
  • Securely dispose of old devices. When it’s time to retire old smartphones, laptops, or tablets, make sure they are securely wiped of any personal data before disposal. If you’re not sure how to do that, seek professional assistance to ensure all data is permanently erased. Bad actors often scour thrift stores and e-waste drop-offs for unsecured devices that might yield an old password, username, or account credential since it only takes one compromised piece of information to potentially break into vast networks of protected data.
     
  • Monitor your digital footprint. Regularly monitor your online presence by searching your name or your company’s name to look for incorrect information or illicit activity. Review social media privacy settings periodically since they’re constantly being updated. Monitor credit scores and reports, especially in the wake of any data breach or password leak. Be mindful of the information you share online and take steps to remove or limit access to any sensitive or outdated information.

This Valentine’s Day, CMIT Solutions hopes everyone will show their online selves a little love. By implementing these proactive measures, you can take control of your digital identity and protect yourself against potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Nurturing your digital identity is an ongoing process that requires diligence and care, but the peace of mind it brings is well worth the effort. Need help with cybersecurity or digital protection? CMIT Solutions is here to help.

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