Protecting your Personal Identifiable information (PII)

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With all PII we create and share on the internet, that calls for protecting it. Otherwise, our PII could fall into the hands of a hacker or identity thief and end up getting abused, in potentially painful and costly ways. 

Here are several things you can do to help ensure that what’s private stays that way: 

1) Use a complete security platform that can also protect your privacy 

Square One is to protect your devices with comprehensive online protection software. This will defend you against the latest virus, malware, spyware, and ransomware attacks plus further protect your privacy and identity. In addition to this, it can also provide strong password protection by generating and automatically storing complex passwords to keep your credentials safer from hackers and crooks who may try to force their way into your accounts.   

2) Use a VPN 

Also known as a virtual private network, a VPN helps protect your vital PII and other data with bank-grade encryption. The VPN encrypts your internet connection to keep your online activity private on any network, even public networks. Using a public network without a VPN can increase your cybersecurity risk because others on the network can potentially spy on your browsing and activity. 

3) Protect your files 

Protecting your files with encryption is a core concept in data and information security, and thus it’s a powerful way to protect your PII. It involves transforming data or information into code that requires a digital key to access it in its original, unencrypted format. For example, McAfee Total Protection includes File Lock, which is our file encryption feature that lets you lock important files in secure digital vaults on your device. 

4) Steer clear of those internet “quizzes” 

Which Marvel Universe superhero are you? Does it really matter? After all, such quizzes and social media posts are often grifting pieces of your PII in a seemingly playful way. You may be giving up things like your birthday, your pet’s name, your first car … things that people often use to compose their passwords or use as answers to common security questions on banking and financial sites. The one way to pass this kind of quiz is not to take it! 

5) Be on the lookout for phishing attacks 

A far more direct form of separating you from your PII are phishing attacks. Posing as emails from known or trusted brands, financial institutions, or even a friend or family member a cybercrook’s phishing attack will attempt to trick you into sharing important information like your logins, account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on under the guise of providing customer service. 

6) Keep mum in your social media profile 

With social engineering attacks that deceive victims by posing as people the victim knows and the way we can sometimes overshare a little too much about our lives, you can see why a social media profile is a potential goldmine for cybercriminals. 

Two things you can do to help protect your PII from being at risk via social media: one, think twice about what PII you might be sharing in that post or photo—like the location of your child’s school or the license plate on your car; two, set your profile to private so that only friends can see it. Review your privacy settings regularly to keep your profile information out of the public eye. And remember, nothing is 100% private on the internet. Never post anything you wouldn’t want to see shared. 

7) Look for HTTPS when you browse 

The “S” stands for secure. Any time you are shopping, banking, or sharing any kind of PII, look for “https” at the start of the web address. Some browsers will also indicate HTTP by showing a small “lock” icon. Doing otherwise on plain HTTP sites exposes your PII for anyone who cares to monitor that site for unsecured connections. 

8) Lock your devices 

By locking your devices, you protect yourself that much better from PII and data theft in the event your device is lost, stolen, or even left unattended for a short stretch. Use your password, PIN, facial recognition, thumbprint ID, what have you. Just lock your stuff.

These are just a few common-sense things to do and be aware of, McAfee can help you protect your devices with our extensive range of products –

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