You are here: Home / News & more / News / Identity Theft: How can you protect your digital identity?

Identity Theft: How can you protect your digital identity?

Illustration de l'actualité - cliquer pour agrandir
With the emergence of the COVID-19 epidemic, working at home, ordering basic necessities, and spending time online is now part of the daily life of most people.

With that in mind, let's take a moment to highlight what makes it possible to access all these digital services (social media, banking, online shopping or even our professional profiles): our digital identity.

Our digital identity refers to all the personal data that directly and indirectly identifies us as a specific individual in a digital context. Your digital identity is associated with a range of characteristics including your name, age, gender, educational, cultural and social background, as well as your tastes, preferences, email address, social security number, credit and debit card number, bank account number, digital signature, biometric data, etc.

Think you're well protected?

Digital identity theft is a common crime that could happen to you. Not convinced? To find out what the internet already knows about you, start by doing a search on your name ... Identity theft will allow a criminal to impersonate you in order to carry out illegal activities or simply steal from you, resulting in financial loss, legal problems and damage to your reputation.

How can you protect your digital identity before and even after data breaches?

The aim is to make life more difficult for potential hackers!

Maintain multiple digital identities

You would never use your business email address for personal use and, likewise, you would never use your personal email address for official matters? Right? Keep it that way and never mix up your personal life and your official life: keep several distinct digital identities for different purposes and make sure you never mix them up.
Take the case of an email address as an identifier. By all means have several email addresses (i.e. several distinct mailboxes to manage) or several aliases (i.e. only one mailbox to manage).

E-mail Use
Main personal email Should only be used for confidential and crucial communication: with banks, government, etc.
Secondary personal email Should only be used in the context of less crucial communication: social networks, newsletter subscriptions, suppliers, etc.
Tertiary personal email  Should only be used for "trash".
Professional email Should only be used for professional purposes and never for personal matters

Use a passphrase as your password

Usernames and passwords are your first line of defence for your personal information online. So carefully choose a different password for each of your different accounts. If you use the same password everywhere and it gets stolen, a fraudster will be able to access all your accounts at the same time: domino effect guaranteed!
To help you manage these different passwords, don't hesitate to use a password manager (ex: Keypass, Dashlane, etc.). If you don't want to use a password manager, at least follow these basic rules:

  • Use a passphrase instead of a password, with at least 3 random words in it (for example : E.T. is my movie préféré.)
  • Each passphrase should be at least 8 characters long, including spaces. If possible, use at least 16 characters.
  • Avoid using personal information about your friends and family in your passphrase, such as birthdays or children's names, sports teams, pet names, etc.
  • Don't use just one passphrase: you will need a different passphrase for each account you have.

If possible, use two-factor authentication

Having a strong username and passphrase is not a complete guarantee of security. To prevent hacking, activate two-stage verification or two-factor authentication where possible. Make sure that a different form of identity is required to access your account.

Other good practices for your online activities

Adapt some of your online habits to make sure you are protected as much as possible:

  • Make sure you have a firewall and anti-virus software on all your devices, including tablets and smartphones , and update your apps and the software regularly.
  • Do not use public Wi-Fi everywhere, including in airports and hotels. If you really need to, use VPN software (but not the free version!).
  • Avoid publishing important personal information on your social media profiles and don't accept unknown "friends" in your network ...
  • Watch out for phishing emails and postal mail, such as pre-approved credit cards you haven't applied for or other tempting financial offers. Do you recognise the e-mail address from where it came? Beware: phishing e-mails can come from a random e-mail or from a known contact.
  • Spam is becoming more and more sophisticated. Never reply to an email containing information about an account or password, and always be suspicious of messages or sites that ask for personal information such as username, password, bank account number, PIN code, full credit card number, your mother's maiden name, or your date of birth.
  • If in doubt, call the institution in question directly to check or, better still, delete the suspicious e-mail. Carefully check the validity of the email before clicking on a link or downloading an attachment.
  • Closely monitor your bank statements. Keep a close eye on any unusual transactions.

Stay informed and be reactive!

Major data breaches are reported in the news. So the media is often a good place to keep updated about any attacks that may have compromised your personal information.
Do you think you are a target or you may have already been targeted? Start by changing all your passphrases right away!

Protect your digital identity just as you protect any other form of personal document.