13 Ways To Protect Your Online Accounts (3,205 Data Breaches in 2023)

Data breaches are on the rise, so take action to protect yourself.

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Updated July 18, 2024
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Data breaches are an unfortunate reality in an era dominated by digital interactions.

In 2023, there were a record 3,205 data breaches, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Such breaches can compromise the security of your online accounts and personal information.

If you want to protect your financial fitness, take these steps to minimize the risk of falling victim to cyber threats.

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Create complicated passwords

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Crafting unique and robust passwords for your online accounts is a fundamental security measure.

Avoid using easily guessable passwords, such as "password123." Opt for complex strings that include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

Regularly changing passwords adds an extra layer of protection.

Watch for fraud

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Unusual transactions, unrecognized login attempts, and unexpected changes in account settings can be red flags that fraudulent activity is taking place in your accounts.

Enable notifications that alert you when activity in your account has taken place. That way, you will be instantly notified about suspicious behavior, allowing you to take swift action and thwart potential fraudsters.

Look at all available credit reports

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Monitor your credit reports from all three major credit-reporting agencies. They are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

By regularly reviewing these reports, you can spot and immediately report any irregularities or unauthorized activity.

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Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)

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Implementing two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA) can help protect your online accounts. After you enter your password, this method requires a secondary verification step, such as a code sent to your mobile device.

Enabling 2FA makes it significantly more difficult for unauthorized individuals to access your accounts, providing an additional roadblock to potential cyber threats.

Use a virtual private network (VPN)

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It can be wise to use a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to the internet, especially on public Wi-Fi networks. 

A VPN encrypts your internet connection, safeguarding data from snooping crooks and mitigating the risk of unauthorized access to your online accounts.

Implementing this precautionary measure keeps your online activities confidential and secure.

Update software and applications regularly

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Ensure your operating system, software, and applications are consistently updated with the latest security patches.

Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software, so downloading regular updates is essential to maintaining a secure digital environment. Regularly check for updates and promptly install them.

Beware of phishing attempts

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Phishing attempts involve deceptive messages sent to your email designed to trick you into revealing sensitive information.

Exercise caution when receiving emails, messages, or links from unknown or suspicious sources. Avoid clicking on unfamiliar links and verify the legitimacy of communications before taking any action.

Secure your Wi-Fi network

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Protect your home Wi-Fi network with a strong and unique password. Use WPA3 encryption if available, as it provides advanced security features.

Regularly update your router's firmware and consider changing the default network name to avoid potential security risks.

Be mindful of social media privacy settings

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Review and adjust the privacy settings on your social media accounts to control the visibility of your personal information. Limit the amount of publicly accessible data and be cautious about sharing sensitive details that malicious actors can exploit.

Regularly reassessing and updating your privacy settings keeps your social media presence aligned with your comfort level regarding how much personal information you share.

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Implement email encryption for sensitive information

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When sharing sensitive information via email, use encryption to protect the contents of your messages.

Many email providers offer encryption options, ensuring that only the intended recipient can access and decipher the information.

Regularly back up data

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Regularly back up important files to an external hard drive or a secure cloud storage service. In the event of a data breach or other security incident, having up-to-date backups helps you recover essential information.

Regular backups serve as a safety net, providing a means to restore critical data in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Educate yourself on cybersecurity best practices

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Stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices for avoiding them. Understand common attack vectors, such as malware and ransomware, and familiarize yourself with strategies to mitigate these risks.

Staying educated is important because threats constantly evolve.

Use secure websites for online transactions

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Make sure a website is secure before engaging in online transactions. Look for the "s" in the "https" part of a website's URL. This reveals that you are using a secure connection.

Avoid entering sensitive information on sites that are not secure. This can help reduce the risk of malicious actors intercepting your data.

Bottom line

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Data breaches are becoming more common. Taking proactive steps to protect your online accounts is crucial to safeguarding personal information and keeping your money safe so you can continue to build wealth.

By adopting the recommended strategies on this list, you can build resilience against the evolving landscape of cyber risks.

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Author Details

Adam Palasciano

Adam Palasciano is a personal finance-obsessed and money-savvy individual who loves to hash out content on all things saving money. He specializes in writing millennial-friendly personal finance content, covering topics ranging from trending financial news, debt, credit cards, cryptocurrency, and more.