It’s a new year, a new decade and prime time to think about a new digital you. By taking some smart, simple steps, you can greatly impact the safety and security of your online identity.

Top recommendations for a new digital you

  • Re-invent yourself with a different online identity. If a site asks for sensitive, personal information – like your email and/or mailing address, Social Security number, birth date, phone number, etc. – the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) says consider “re-inventing” your digital persona by sharing alternative answers to those queries that only you would know. An “alter-internet” persona will help limit tracking by search engines, websites and apps. This can also help safeguard you from identity theft.
  • Share with care. Be aware that when you post a picture or message, you may inadvertently share with strangers personal details and sensitive data about yourself and your family and friends. It’s okay to limit who can see your information and what you share. Learn about and use privacy and security settings on your favorite websites. NCSA has an excellent resource that includes direct links to update your privacy settings on popular devices and online services.
  • Lock Down Your Logins. Create long and unique passphrases for all accounts and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces in your passphrase. MFA will fortify your accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics or a unique one-time code sent to your mobile device. This additional layer of security makes it difficult for bad guys to log in as if they were you.

Get Started Now

Here are some easy ways to help jump start a new digital you at home and in your workplace.

  • Have a family meeting to discuss the importance of protecting privacy and take action by configuring your privacy settings.
  • Volunteer at your local senior center to help this vulnerable audience learn basics like creating secure passphrases.
  • Help students of all ages understand how to put this information into play in their local communities to “spread cyber cheer, not fear.”
  • Host a staff lunch-and-learn to educate employees on what they can do to protect their personal and work online presence.

Make it a regular practice to monitor your online accounts and allow updates to your devices with the latest security. That will make it more difficult for bad guys to find the real you.