The internet provides us with access to seemingly limitless information, often with the risk of compromising the security of our personal information. Here are seven practical ways to protect your personal data from a cyberspace attack.

1. Be Safe on Social Media
Be vigilant about what you post on social media.  Posting information, like your birthday or address, can be used by criminals for more dangerous applications. Personalize the security settings in your social network accounts if you share a post with personally identifiable information (PII), and make sure to only select trusted individuals who can see it.

2. Protect Your Credit Cards
When making purchases online, always be sure that the website you enter your credit card information into is secure. The URL should begin with “HTTPS,” not simply “HTTP.” Don’t make purchases on an unsecured network and remember to logout of your customer account when using public devices. To be extra careful, load a prepaid credit card with limited funds for online purchases.

3. Use the Cloud for Back-Ups
Backing up your important files is essential in case your devices are ever stolen. Common examples are iCloud®, Dropbox®, and Google Drive®, where you can upload the files and access them from anywhere in the world with a working internet connection. These programs can secure files with user-based or group-based permissions.

4. Factory Reset and Drive Wiping
Simply “deleting” something from your computer or mobile device will not permanently remove the information from the machine. Before you sell or throw away your old machine, make sure that the drives are fully wiped and that the machine is given a factory reset.

5. Disable Bluetooth and WiFi When Not in Use
Always turn off the Bluetooth or WiFi capabilities of your device when they are not being used. If you don’t take this precaution, other devices in the vicinity may be able to gain access to yours, including access to open file sharing networks. Your network sharing settings should always be set to only share files with other trusted devices you own.

6. Password Protection
Passwords should be impossible to guess by family and friends, which means you shouldn’t use birthdays, anniversary dates, family member names, or other obvious identifying information. Be sure to use different passwords for all important accounts. Additionally, don’t use obvious information for password recovery questions.

7. 2-Step Authentication
Online websites with 2-step authentication force users to enter a code sent to their mobile device in order to sign in. If your social media or e-commerce site asks for additional identifying information like this – to protect your account from fraudulent login attempts – always opt in. You will get warnings of suspicious activity and have the ability to change your information if it ever becomes compromised.

For more information on 2-step authentication (also called 2-step verification), please contact your title representative.

This article is adapted from a blog written by Charles Crawford at

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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