The world has gone digital, and this hasty adoption of tech in every aspect of our lives has happened so fast that more often than not, we have not paused to think how any online interaction- be it a purchase, or a simple photo upload, impacts our safety.
As we embrace technology in the way we work, communicate, shop, or simply consume information, we all develop our unique digital identity. This digital identity is a sum total of unique identifiers and behavior patterns that tie back to us. It includes digital attributes such as Government issued IDs- Your PAN, Aadhaar, Driving License, etc would fall in this category. A secure digital identity would imply that no one is able to establish any kind of digital profile that uses this personally identifiable information. It also includes your digital activities- what you purchase, the search queries you type, the photos you upload, and the locations you get tagged in.
You most likely use and access your digital identity for almost everything in day-to-day life, right from social media to online shopping, to accessing banking, financial services and healthcare facilities. While convenient, the down side to this is that your personal information exists online. Websites and apps you access are constantly storing information about you via cookies, and use this information without express consent, for retargeting campaigns, and a host of other reasons you may or may not be on board with. Personally identifiable information available online is also subject to hacks, breaches, duplication and theft. And with the number of identity theft cases rising globally, much of your previously personal information could now already be public information!
Digital identity theft could impact any one of us. You could get away with a few faulty credit card purchases or your losses could run deeper, like theft of your crypto assets. But it could also mean someone using your PAN and banking details to take loans in your name! Someone could also try to impersonate you on social media and interact with your connections inappropriately, or share confidential information that could negatively impact your reputation or your business.
In such a situation, therefore, it becomes very essential for all of us to make sure that we are doing our best to protect our digital identity. We’ve put together a checklist of things you could do, to minimize the risk for yourself-
- Keep your Security Software and Apps updated:
Those constant reminders to update your antivirus, and all the apps you use, can be quite pesky. But this is essential. App developers and antivirus software companies are constantly on the lookout for new ways and means that hackers find to break into your devices, and keep releasing software updates that shield you from the various loopholes that keep getting discovered. Never delay those software updates!
- Share personally identifiable information on encrypted websites only:
In case you aren’t sure if a website is personally encrypted, check the browser’s status bar. You should find a lock symbol. Such a symbol indicates that it is safe to share your data with the website. If not, avoid at all costs!
- Be wary of Public Wireless Networks:
On unsecured public networks, anyone can see what data you receive or send. Make sure significant transactions, such as accessing your bank account, or even logging into your Facebook account, does not happen over such a network. Remember, Facebook is now your login to many websites and applications! A breach into your Facebook account could have a waterfall effect on many other accounts.
- Constantly change your passwords:
Choose a difficult password, and be sure to not include things like your birth date in it- those can easily be found online, making your password vulnerable. Make sure you’re not using the same password for everything. And most importantly, refresh your passwords every now and then. You can use a password manager to keep up with the passwords.
- Watch what you share online:
This is important. Many of us, surrounded by social media platforms, tend to have a habit of oversharing our lives. In this process, we might inadvertently reveal answers to our security questions, and compromise an important account.
- Watch your credit report often:
Sometimes, financial fraud is performed in such small transactions, that in the larger scheme of things we don’t even notice it. And before we realize, over time the impact becomes significant. It is important to regularly check your credit report and bank statements, and if something is amiss, make sure you investigate it immediately. The longer you wait, the riskier it becomes!
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication:
Two-factor authentication implies that in order to either log in or confirm a transaction, you will need to use two factors to authenticate yourself. This could be a combination of a password and an OTP sent to your phone number, or it could even include biometric data inputs. Wherever possible, implement two-factor authentication. Yes, it can come in the way and take up some bandwidth, but you’d rather be safe than sorry!
Simple digital habits, while they may seem obvious, are often ignored and lead to substantial losses. Follow these tips and keep your digital identity safe.
The Future of Digital Identity Management with Repute
To safeguard your digital identity even further, we are working tirelessly to bring to you Repute Wallet- your digital safekeeper of all identity and other private information. With the Repute Wallet, you have full control over your data, and how you want to use it and share it. It allows for consent based identity sharing, which means you only need to share data that is critical to/ necessary for the entity requesting it. In other words, you no longer need to give in to contracts of adhesion. No more bullying you into sharing everything about yourself when there is no need, no trust and no application of all this extra information!
Watch this space for more updates about the Repute Wallet, and how you can sign up for it.