5 ways Singaporeans can do to avoid identity theft

Ways to avoid identity theft
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The key to protecting your digital identity is mindfulness. But the sad truth is, no matter how cautious and painstaking you are with your personal data, cybercriminals always find a way to penetrate the system and steal valuable information.

The year 2017 has seen some of the biggest data breaches in history. From Uber to Yahoo! to Equifax to Dow Jones, there is no choosing which company's website or data, hackers can breach. For the record, Uber's secretive data breach affected more than 380,000 people in Singapore. Data from around 5,400 AXA customers in the country had been exposed. And there is no sign that this will stop soon.

Also read: 4 biggest and worst data breaches in 2017

According to cybersecurity firm McAfee, only 34 per cent of Singaporeans say protecting their identity online is their number one cybersecurity priority. However, a bigger chunk of this percentage does not take precautionary measures to avoid being duped online.

David Freer, McAfee's vice president of Consumer-Asia Pacific, shares five best practices for Singaporeans to follow to alleviate the chances of falling victim to identity theft:

Update regularly

Software updates are tedious more often than not. Understanding its significance, however, is the first step to dodging cyber attacks. They bring the necessary security patches or fixes to protect your device and every bit of data in it. As Freer suggests, "think of it as investing time in your security".

Delete unused apps

The more apps you have on your phone, the more exposed you are to risks. It is important to remove apps and pages of apps that have not been used in months. Additionally, it pays to know if your apps are still in the App Store or Play Store. If not, they are likely infected with malware.

"It's a good security practice to take a minimalist approach to your application use, especially since some older apps may no longer be supported by the Google or Apple stores."

Keep passwords private

Your kindness should not go beyond the extent of sharing your passwords. These should be protected at all cost. One way you are putting yourself at risk is through common video streaming apps. Don't let your guards down when it comes to privacy, even from your friends and family.

Examine URLs

Before clicking on URLs or links to a particular webpage, pay close attention to them. Does it look phishy? If it is, don't push it. Hackers employ fake URLs to mislead victims. For net banking, make sure the url begins with "https://" or else avoid.

"If the link looks "phishy", go directly to the company site to confirm that the URL is legitimate."

Back it up

Data breaches are the first worst thing that could ever happen to companies handling sensitive data. Remember Equifax? What about AXA? The list goes on.

"Reviewing your account info, and setting up alerts if there's a chance your personal data has been compromised is a key component to securing information that has been compromised."

This article was first published on January 26, 2018