Tips for protecting yourself against credit breaches and identity theft:
– Do not download e-mail attachments or click on links unless you are absolutely sure they are from a legitimate source.
– Use two-factor identification where available. For example, many sites, including Google, Twitter and LinkedIn, can now text a security code to your phone when you log in, which will text you again if someone tries to change your password.
– Practice good password management: Don't use the same passwords on multiple services (particularly e-mail accounts or anything with credit cards authenticated, Amazon, etc.)
– Use unique and hard-to-guess passwords using one or more of the following tricks: multiple words, nonsensical, misspelled words, symbols, numbers and mix of caps and small letters.
– When answering security questions, use fake or nonsensical answers. Things like your mother's maiden name can often be found online with very little research. For example, if you're single, answer a question about where you are married by making something up.
– Be careful what you put on social media, especially regarding your personal details, worth, acquisitions or habits.
– Check your credit report with major credit agencies on (at least) an annual basis.
– Ensure system and software updates are up to date.
– Make sure anti-virus software (e.g. McAfee) is installed and up to date. Know that anti-virus software alone does not give foolproof protection against cybercrime.
– Follow your bank's instructions to empty the cookies in your web browser.
– Refresh your browser often after exiting a sensitive log-on session, such as a banking session.
Rachel Greenspan is a Fellow in Global Journalism at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.