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How you can protect yourelf from identity theft

As we have all begun to live our lives increasingly online, the importance of web security has grown. Passwords were once the best way to protect internet users but have now become only a small part in identity security as fraud and data theft continue to become daily occurrences.

It may seem obvious, however, having your employees choose strong passwords is still of paramount importance and is the first step in online protection. When people choose passwords, make sure they are hard to guess by using a wide variety of different characters, letters, numbers and symbols. Also, avoid using information such as important dates or pet names as hackers can find this information via their online profiles.

Looking beyond passwords, two-factor verification (opens in new tab) is increasingly becoming the standard to verify your identity – so much so that the European Banking Authority (opens in new tab) requires Payment Service Providers to carry out strong customer authentication before proceeding with an online payment. Dozens of popular services offer 2FA (opens in new tab), therefore make sure you opt-in for these as well as your bank accounts and digital wallets.

Take time to routinely educate your coworkers on the basics of IT security. What may seem like common knowledge to you is likely completely foreign to everyone else, and having a baseline knowledge of security and threats will help ensure they follow protocol. For example, hosting a quarterly security 101 lunch where you cover topics like what cross-site scripting is or how key loggers work can pay dividends down the road.

When selecting anti-virus solutions, consider the user interface. As an IT professional you may know how to easily navigate a variety of interfaces, but your workforce may not know what common notifications mean. By selecting solutions that clearly explain protocols and options, your workforce can navigate alerts and solutions themselves rather than issuing tickets to you for every occurrence.

Although the media has often quick been quick to lay the future of security on biometrics, web users should approach them with caution. Fingerprints and visual scans can be replicated by hackers much easier than many think. A prime example is when the German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (opens in new tab) had her fingerprints copied from smudges on windows and other surfaces. Don’t rely solely on biometrics – a combination with verification actions is always best.

Keeping yourself secure online needn’t be a chore. Taking simple steps such as ensuring you have strong passwords, using two-factor verification, installing anti-virus software and using different browsers can all help you to protect your online identity.

Stephan Schirrecker, Vice President of Marketing at Nexmo

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