What is identity management and why does it matter? — plus 7 tips
Everybody connecting to the online world for their daily usage, such as shopping, banking, and interacting with people, have a digital identity. But how do you manage that identity? It will help if you follow a few simple steps on identity management.
What is identity management? Identity management relates to how organizations and individuals manage digital identities. Basically, it can be referred to as a comprehensive discipline initializing with the process of identity verification, protection of data and information, and ensuring proper access to the resources by the associated individuals.
For a business, identity management includes shielding employees’ personal information and regulating employee access to company systems and data.
Identity management for an individual involves protecting personal information tied to a person’s online behaviour. That includes communication, shopping, and financial transactions done online.
Why does identity management matter for consumers?
With so many platforms available to us, it might become a bit tricky to organize all our identities. But it’s indispensable to take your time in managing your digital identity to help protect against online scams, identity theft, and other serious cybercrimes and fraudulent activities.
If you regularly use the internet, you probably deal with a lot of your personal data online. Performing any activity online requires you to share your sensitive data most of the time, including filling up your information while opening online accounts (financial, social media, and other email accounts) or signing up for applications. In exchange for a product or service, you constantly provide personal information.
A lot of your data already exists publicly online, and with so much of your sensitive info out there, it’s inevitable to face some risks if you don’t remain careful enough. Following are some of the dangers of not following identity management:
a) Loss of data: In the event of a data breach, hackers might access your sensitive information stored by a company or online retailer and sell it on the dark web, or blackmail you, asking for ransom in return.
b) Inefficient data management: It can be challenging to go through all your unorganized data to gather the specific information needed. Using relevant technologies and proper tools to manage them can be helpful.
c) Uncontrolled data access: Giving away an excessive amount of your personal data on the internet can come back and bite you. When you’ve put your information everywhere, it’ll be easier for hackers to trace your identity, which can result in terrible consequences.
d) Target of cybercrime: When anyone can access your information on your online accounts, it won’t take long for cybercriminals to target you. Even with small pieces of data, they might follow your social media and emails accounts to gather more information. Eventually, they could commit identity theft, profile copying, or use your information to perform other criminal activities.
The truth is, it’s probably impossible for you to manage all of your online data. But obeying some rules of identity management can give you some control.
7 tips for identity management
For effective identity management, it’s wise to focus on doing things that can help protect your personal information. Here are 10 quick tips that can help:
1. Watch out for phishing scams
Phishing is a technique used by scammers to trick you into providing your personal or financial information. Snoops often use emails and text messages to send malicious links and attachments that take you to infectious sites. The messages usually look like they are sent from a legitimate source, like your bank, which might encourage you to click on a link.
You may accidentally click on such emails, thinking they are official notifications. But, clicking on them will put your device and the personal information you keep on it at risk.
Don’t do it. There’s a good chance the link will take you to a page that asks for personal information, such as your bank log-in credentials. If you provide that information, scammers could use it to access your account and withdraw your money.
Another risk of clicking? You might download malicious software onto your smartphone or computer.
Identity-management advice: Never click on links in unsolicited messages.
2. Change your passwords
Passwords are the key to your online accounts, and you must regularly change them. That way, it will be more challenging for scammers to access your personal information.
A unique and complex password is a must for you to protect your data. Your password should always be a combination of 12 symbols, numbers, and letters that are random and not related to you in any way. Or you might consider a passphrase. A passphrase consists of a long string of words that you can remember, but others would have a hard timing guessing.
Another alternative? You might consider installing a solid password manager, which acts as an encrypted vault. You’ll only have to remember one master password to access all of your unique login credentials for each online account. You can try Norton Password Manager, for example.1
Identity-management advice: Never use the same password on more than one account.
3. Sign up for two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of protection to your online accounts when you log into them. When activated, this security tool acts as your double shielding.
Many social media sites and online services have already adopted this method of security. Your bank probably offers two-factor authentication. First, you enter your username and password, as usual. Then comes the second factor: A code number is texted to your phone or sent to your email. A code like that will be sent every time you log into your account. You just have to enter the code to complete the process.
That extra factor can help protect against hackers accessing your accounts.
Identity-management advice: Consider signing up for or activating two-factor authentication whenever it’s available, especially on sensitive accounts, like your financial, email, or social media accounts.
4. Order your free credit reports
In case if anyone steals your personal or financial information, they may be able to exploit your identity by opening credit accounts or taking out loans in your name. That’s why it’s essential to monitor your credit reports for suspicious activity constantly.
Identity-management advice: It’s also a good idea to review your credit card and bank statements for things like charges you don’t recognize and withdrawals you didn’t make.
5. Consider a VPN
A virtual private network, better known as a VPN, is a tremendous online privacy tool. By encrypting the data you send and receive, a VPN conceals your IP address, indicating your location, ultimately protecting your true identity.2 It creates that encrypted tunnel between you and a remote private server operated by your VPN provider, which scrambles the communicated data.
In short, a VPN helps shields your private information and browsing history from cybercriminals.
Identity-management advice: When using public wifi, enable a VPN service, such as Norton VPN, on your device before accessing the web.3 This prevents anyone from intercepting your log-in credentials and other sensitive information.
6. Install security software
A robust security software, like Norton 360, can help block viruses and malware from infecting your device. This can prevent cybercriminals from harming your devices and the personal information stored in them.
For instance, some malware might record your keystrokes, which could expose your login credentials to sensitive accounts.
Identity-management advice: Keep your device’s operating systems and your security software updated. Updates protect against vulnerabilities, like new viruses or malware. Configure your device settings to update your OS and security software automatically.
7. Be careful what you post on social media
It can be tempting to post your pictures, videos, and other information constantly on your social media accounts. But keep in mind that scammers may be able to use some of that personal information to steal your identity.
That’s why it’s essential to never give away private info like your address, date of birth, and phone number. It’s better not to post your pictures frequently or even give up your full first and last names on your profiles.
Those vacation photos you post while relaxing on a beach? A snoop might see them and decide it’s a good time to break into your house. Better to post the photos after you return home.
Identity-management advice: Social media platforms have settings to limit who sees what you post. Engage those privacy features and share narrowly.