A lot of people don’t know that their digital identity could be vulnerable to identity theft. A cybercriminal might use your crucial information for various illegal acts. If you want to know what digital identity is, what can put it at risk, and how you can protect it, read this blog post till the end.
Today, we’re living in the digital world. Therefore, the importance of digital identity has increased several times than before. Nowadays, you can see that almost every business has started accepting digital identities, whether it’s a hotel, a bank, a telecom company, or an eCommerce website. However, the authentication of a digital identity is not as straightforward as we see in the real world. Since users or customers are not physically available, it’s not easy for companies to verify if they (users) have submitted the legit information or not. Online identity thieves take advantage of this loophole and misuse the digital identities of businesses and individuals.
In this post, we will get to know what digital identity is, what can make your digital ID vulnerable, and how you can protect it. So without any further ado, let’s get started.
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What is a Digital Identity?
A digital identity is an information about an individual or organization that exists online or available in the digital form. This information can be everything from your name to DOB (Date of Birth) to social security number to even something less known, such as your online search activities or something you like on Facebook. A digital identity includes unique identifiers and patterns, which make it possible to detect individuals.
The information which completes your digital identity can be parted into two categories:
- Digital Attributes,
- Digital Activities.
What Are Digital Attributes and Digital Activities?
Digital attributes are those parts of a digital identity that make it a complete digital identity. In contrast, digital activities are the records of something you do online.
Examples of digital attributes
- A government-issued ID (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
- Bank details
- Login credentials (username & password)
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Medical history
- Biometrics (eye scan, fingerprint, 3D face map)
- Email address
Examples of digital activities
- Likes, comments and shares on social networking sites
- Purchase history
- Search queries
- Signed petitions
- Cell phone usage
- Apps downloading
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What Can Make Your Digital Identity Vulnerable?
In several ways, our digital identity can expose and fall into the wrong hands. Sometimes, cyber attackers use a unique method to steal our digital identity. However, in most cases, we don’t take preventive measures and become an easy target of online fraudsters. Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios for digital identity theft:
Using Same Credentials on Multiple Accounts
Many people do this so that they don’t forget their passwords. However, they don’t realize that it can increase the risk of their account being compromised. God forbid, if a hacker steals your password for one account, he/she can use that password on all your accounts.
Using Public Wi-Fi networks
The data over public Wi-Fi is often unsecured and unencrypted. Since on open free Wi-Fi networks, hackers can position themselves between you and the connection point; you should use such networks carefully.
Visiting Unsecured Websites
Not every website makes adequate efforts to keep the digital identity of its user’s safe & secured. If you often do online shopping or visit a website that requires you to share your digital identity, make sure it is reputable and uses an SSL certificate.
Connecting with Strangers on Social Media
Connecting with strangers on social media might be unsafe sometimes because you don’t know who is genuine and who is the hacker.
Other Things That Can Make Your Digital Identity Vulnerable:
- Data breaches
- Unsecured mailbox
- Lost social security card or other government issued-ID
- Weak data protection
What Happens When Your Digital Identity Gets Hacked
Digital ID theft is like a gold mine for cybercriminals. Depending on the type of information stolen, it can be used for a variety of purposes. Most of this information is sold in the underground market.
- Personal information such as name, DOB, address, phone number, and social security number can be used to apply for loans or credit cards under the user’s name. Moreover, such data is sold to marketing companies that are specialized in spam campaigns.
- Financial information such as banking and insurance information is used by hackers to access accounts and process fraudulent online transactions.
- The medical history of a patient encloses a large number of a user’s identifying information, which can be used for buying illegal and non-prescribed drugs.
- Leakage of educational information might expose users to extortion and blackmail. A blackmailer may utilize educational information to trick or scare users into fulfilling their demands.
- If cyber attackers steal your debit or credit card details, they might use it to make immediate purchases.
- If your user credentials like your usernames and password are exposed, your accounts might be used for phishing attacks and perpetrating spam.
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How Can You Protect Your Digital Identity
Choose Secure Passwords
Make sure your passwords are secure. It’s advisable to use upper & lower case letters, numbers, and symbols in your password. Add an extra layer of protection to your accounts by using two-factor authentication.
Use Social Media Safely
Always make sure your profiles don’t list personally identifiable information (PII) such as your full name, birthday, or other essential account numbers. Remember, the less information available to the public, the safer your digital identity will be.
Use an Encrypted Connection
Avoid using public Wi-Fi and access only those websites that use encryption. You can see your browser’s status bar to check if the site is encrypted or not. A website with a “lock” sign (at the beginning of the domain name) is secured.
Update Security Software Timely
If you’re using security software, make sure they are timely updated. You should set “Update” settings to automatic.
Every time you come across a service provider that needs your digital identity to offer its services, you must ensure that the provider has Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certification and other security certifications. At iDenfy, we’re serious about meeting the highest standards for ISMA (Information Security Management Systems). As a renowned identity verification service provider of Lithuania, we can’t take our clients’ security back seat. We’re offering our advanced identity verification solutions to businesses and individuals across the globe. To know more about services you may book a meeting with us.