How to protect personal data from online thieves

Posted at 7:59 AM, Jan 28, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Thieves are lurking everywhere and sometimes it’s the ones you’ll never see that can do the most damage!

Tuesday is Data Privacy Day. It’s a time for people to take action and talk about protecting personal information online. One way criminals try to target everyday victims is through a phishing attack.

Thieves create a malicious email that can look just like it came from a bank, government agency or any website you would normally shop on.

It often tries to get you to act quickly— saying your account has been compromised, your order can’t be fulfilled or there is another urgent matter to address.

These phishing attacks use email or try to get you to click a fake link on a website to collect personal and financial information or infect your machine with mal-ware and viruses.

Doug Streit is the Chief Information Security Officer at Old Dominion University. He says there can be many different red flags that will tip you off to something being a scam and you’ll want to be on the lookout for all of them.

"Check the email address. If it contains terminology or language that you’re not used to hearing from an individual then that would be a red flag," he explained.

If you’re not sure if an email is legitimate, try to verify it.

You can do this by contacting the company directly, use information from your account statement, on the company’s official website or on the back of a credit card.

When shopping, be sure to check the site is security enabled.

Look for web addresses with HTTPS at the beginning. That means that site is taking extra measures to help secure your information.

You should also do your research when you shop with a new website. Read reviews and see if other shoppers had positive or negative experiences with the website.

Be sure to limit the type of business you conduct over open public WiFi connections, including logging in to key accounts like email and banking.

Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cyber criminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords/ A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember.