Are You Securing Your Personal Information Online?

So much of our daily life is spent online, but are you doing all you should to secure  your personal information online? Our “online life” is a great way to communicate, to manage our schedules, to manage our finances, to quickly find information, to work collaboratively, even to shop.  At this point, we can’t even imagine life without the Internet. However, this online connectivity can make it a challenge to keep your personal information secure. The Federal Trade Commission offers several reminders to help you keep your online personal information safer.  

Beware of Impersonators  

Do you know who you are giving your financial or personal information to online?  If you receive an email from what looks like a company with whom you do business, and are asked for personal information, beware.  If you have an account with a company, they already have your personal information and account information—they don’t need to ask you for it.  Don’t respond or click on links in these emails. It’s easy to be caught off-guard. Impersonators are crafty at generating lookalike email banners and websites and play on our trusting natures.  Plus, in the craziness of daily life, we sometimes let our defenses down, trying to be quickly responsive and get things done.

Easy rule to remember--If you didn’t first contact the company, don’t release any information.  Rather, call the customer service number on your account statement. Or, open a new tab, search for the company (it should have an https:// at the beginning of the address) and initiate a call or chat to the customer service line to ask whether a legitimate request was made to you.  This contact protects you and informs the company that their systems may be under attack.

Don’t Overshare on Social Media Sites

You know you’re tempted.  Your kids have hit a milestone or earned an achievement.  You’d love to share your excitement and pride with your social media friends.  Or maybe you’re taking that once-in-a-lifetime vacation and can’t wait to share every detail and photo documenting your journey.  

Think back to first reminder listed above.  The more information an impersonator has about you and your family, the more likely his approach will seem legitimate and more likely you may fall for it.  Plus, if you use family information to answer account challenge questions, by sharing this information, your accounts and identity are more vulnerable.

Control access to your social media pages to a close circle of friends, family and colleagues.  Do NOT share your full name, date of birth, social security number, address, phone numbers or account numbers on publicly accessible social media sites.

Dispose of Personal Information Before Discarding Devices

In the market for a shiny, new computer, tablet, or phone?  Before you take your old device to electronics recycling, re-sell or give to another, be sure you have first removed all of your personal information.  On your computer, you should overwrite the hard drive by using a utility program to wipe out your information.

For a mobile device, remove the SIM card, your voicemails, calls sent/received, texts sent/received, contacts, photos, and web search history.  If you’re not sure how to permanently clear all your data from your mobile device, consult your service provider’s website, your device manufacturer’s site, or your owner’s manual.

Be Aware of Encryption

You spend so much time online, hopping among websites.  But is what you are browsing secure? Before performing any sensitive transactions, look at the status bar of your browser.  Look all the way to the left. You should see a lock symbol, which indicates that information sent and received via this site is encrypted.  

In addition, when you are searching for specific sites, you want to access sites that have https:// at the beginning of their web address (as opposed to just http://).  The “s” in the https:// sites stands for secure. Without the “s”, the information transmitted will not be secure.

In an effort to squeeze the most out of each day, many of you are performing a growing number of tasks on-the-run using mobile apps.  But are your apps secure? According to NowSecure benchmark testing, “....more than half of tested apps have security flaws that compromise their ability to protect data in transit and at rest.”

By using an integrated mobile app like iStratus® that uses military-grade encryption, you can securely store your daily planner, passwords, lists, photos and sensitive documents in one place with mobile convenience.

Create and Store Private Passwords

You use online banking, utilize online access to financial and retirement statements, healthcare accounts, not to mention online shopping.  The number of passwords that the average person accumulates has grown exponentially in recent years. Creating, storing, updating, and accessing passwords can be a real nuisance.

By using a password vault, you can securely store and easily access all of your passwords.  Even better, a password vault also generates randomized, strong passwords. It alleviates the need to memorize or the temptation to re-use passwords for multiple sites—a real security no-no.  Given that some companies have password update or complexity policies, the password vault helps you update to new, complex passwords with the click of a button.

Initially, it might feel like yet ANOTHER login and password and an additional step to take before accessing the account needed in the moment.  However, you’ll quickly find that a password vault is both easy and efficient. With the iStratus® app password vault feature, you’ll have on-the-go access to all of your passwords from any of your Apple devices.

While you are busily living the online portion of your life, take time to self-assess and make sure you are taking the steps necessary to secure your personal information.  For more information about securely storing, integrating, and managing personal information online using a powerful, mobile app, visit