In the second part of our series, A Guide to Protecting and Monitoring Your Personal Cyber Security, we look at ways you can monitor your personal cyber security to protect your online identity and your dollars.

Let’s assume you’re doing the common proactive things to protect your personal cyber security. You use a password manager, you know how to avoid typical phishing scams, you’re careful with the sites you visit and the information you share when on public wi-fi, and you use multi-factor authentication where possible. Beyond these proactive measures, here are some steps you can take to actively listen for breaches to your data, signs of identity theft, and compromises of accounts.

Has My Data Been Breached?

Troy Hunt provides an incredible free resource, Have I been pwned?, that lets you quickly find out if you may be at risk due to one of your online accounts being compromised or ‘pwned’ in a data breach. You can enter your email or username to check if you have an account that has been compromised and, even better, you can sign up to be notified if an account is compromised.

How Can I Watch for Signs of Identity Theft/Assumption?

First, it pays to know the signs that indicate someone may have stolen your information: the identifytheft.gov website lists some clues.

Here are some tactics you can employ to listen for signs of identity theft:

How Can I Protect Against Monetary Theft?

After a data breach or identity theft, you are at greater risk of monetary theft. This means you need to pay attention to account statements.

Review your bank account statements monthly to ensure there’s no suspicious activity. Better yet, contact your bank to set up alerts to notify you of large withdrawals from checking or savings accounts.

Review your credit card statement. Yes, this may take some time, but it will pay dividends if you need to dispute a charge. Don’t rely only on your card issuer to alert you of suspicious activity.

A Final Word on Being Proactive

We mentioned the basic steps you should be taking to proactively protect your identify, your data, and your money. Here are some lesser-known proactive steps you should take:

  • Be alert to attempts at social engineering. Someone grilling you about where you went to school, pet names, or your favorite colors and sports teams may be looking to discover the answers to your security questions.
  • Check your social media privacy settings to limit access. And think before you share.
  • Remove apps you no longer use. Unused apps can still access and use your sensitive information, opening your devices up to exploit through vulnerabilities in the apps, especially those that are no longer maintained by the developer.

Missed our first post in the series? Check out: 2FA and Passwords: What You Need to Know.

Additional Resources

The FTC’s Identifytheft.gov website provides a list of steps to take for various types of data loss, including driver’s license, social security number, and online login.

FTC Privacy, Identity & Online Security Resources

Identity Theft Resource Center

Insider Threat Detection