We all use an abundance of electronic devices to share, transmit and store personal data. Some of the information our devices collect and share about us is harmless – such as how many steps you’ve taken today. On the other hand, we also have more critical data, like credit card and banking information, which would be detrimental to our financial wellbeing if shared. It’s becoming much more difficult to protect our personal information because all devices, applications and websites are attempting to integrate all our financial data to one place for convenience. With this consolidation, you need to always be looking to improve the way you protect your data on these platforms. These fraud prevention tips can help you stay vigilant.
There are a generally two accepted ways to increase the security on your devices:
- Biometric data: Most cybersecurity experts consider biometric data to be the most secure. Biometric data is the use of a personal characteristic like fingerprint recognition or facial ID. Many companies dealing in highly sensitive matters like defense contractors and biochemical facilities have adopted some form of biometric security.
- Two-factor authentication: This security measure requires you to login or access another data point to gain entry, usually via text message or an email address. Most people have used two-factor authentication at some point.
Using one of these two methods will dramatically increase the protection on your physical device; however, it will not protect you from your data being improperly shared by the companies collecting it. When you sign up for most websites or apps, you must agree to the terms and conditions before you can even use them. Buried in the terms and conditions is the creators’ ability to gather and share your information among other things. Giving these apps data like your debit card may make your life easier but also makes you prone to data breaches – like the one that happened at Target in 2013.
So, what can you do to protect yourself?
- With newly implemented scrutiny, some apps and websites have adopted the ability for you to opt out of sharing information. This is, however, limited – but a start, nonetheless. To see if you can opt out, go to the website and look up their sharing or privacy privileges before using the site.
- Cell phone apps have made it a little bit easier to control the level of information you share. Essentially, all apps ask you at least once if you want to share information with it, such as your location or other personal data stored on your device. This can be easily declined or even disabled through your phone’s privacy settings. However, this may lead to some apps not working optimally or, in some cases, not at all.
- Protecting the physical data on your phone comes down to preference and belief. Many people believe that companies are storing your fingerprint and face scans into a database, but this is untrue. Even though biometric data is considered the strongest form of protection, it is always wise to put a backup method in place. If your device allows you to establish a two-factor authentication, such as a backup password to retrieve your information, this would be the optimal setup.
In the end, all you can do as a consumer is be diligent on how you store and share your data across all devices and internet platforms. It is up to you to decide what financial data you are comfortable sharing with apps and websites. Just remember that your data is being gathered and potentially shared, so you must stay aware of new security measures.