How to Protect Personal Information Online: A Detailed Guide

With the rising number of identity theft, phishing scams, data breaches, and other digital threats, it’s more important than ever to safeguard your privacy online. You need to protect your personal information at all times, whether you’re using your social media accounts or accessing legitimate apps through official app stores, from Google Play to Facebook Messenger and other online services.

Understanding Online Privacy

Digital privacy is the level of control over your personal information while using the internet. It incorporates a broad range of data, including:

  • Personal details such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth
  • Financial information such as banking details and credit card numbers
  • General search history, including visited websites, general browsing and search queries, and online purchases
  • Location tracking through GPS, IP address, etc.
  • Online activity such as social media posts, messages, and app usage

Here’s why you should protect your privacy online.

  • Identity Protection: Cybercriminals can use your personal information to impersonate you, access your accounts, and commit financial fraud.
  • Financial Security: Keeping your banking details and credit card numbers private prevents unauthorized transactions and financial losses.
  • Data Security: Online privacy protects your data from being collected, analyzed, and potentially misused through data leaks or other means by companies or individuals without your consent. Your data also serves as a basis for targeted ads and other services employed by big tech companies.
  • Protection Against Cyber Threats: Digital privacy lowers the risk of malware and phishing attacks, which can result in data loss and financial damage.
  • Control Over Sensitive Information: Safeguarding your internet privacy allows you to control what information you share and with whom, reducing the risk of exploitation, cyberstalking, harassment, and other forms of online abuse.


Protecting Yourself in the Online World

Tip #1: Strong, Unique Passwords

Strong passwords are harder to guess or crack using automated tools, protecting your accounts from unauthorized access and data breaches that could end up on the dark web. Additionally, avoid using the same password for all your accounts, including for something like a throwaway email address. This way, if your social media account is compromised, your email account, bank account, and other online accounts remain safe.

To create strong, unique passwords:

  • Aim for at least 12 characters—longer passwords are generally more secure
  • Include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Avoid easily guessable patterns like “password123”
  • Avoid personal information such as your name or birth date
  • Use a random password generator to create strong passwords

Remembering multiple strong, unique passwords can be a challenge. That’s where a password manager comes in to store your passwords and automatically fill them in when logging in to other websites. All you have to do is to access the encrypted vault and input one master password.

Tip #2: Secure Your Networks

Secure Wi-Fi prevents unauthorized access to your network, protecting personal communications, passwords, and financial data from a data breach. Additionally, a secure network safeguards your computers, smartphones, and smart home devices from malware and hacking attempts by data brokers or other nefarious bad actors.

On the other hand, public Wi-Fi networks, especially from an unknown internet service provider, are often unencrypted, allowing anyone to intercept your data. Downloading files on unsecured Wi-Fi also exposes your devices to malicious software. That’s not to mention the risk of man-in-the-middle attacks. Hackers can trick you into joining fake Wi-Fi hotspots and steal your data.

The safest option is waiting for a secure network—avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities like online banking or entering passwords. You can create a secure internet connection from your cellular data using your mobile hotspot. A virtual private network (VPN) also encrypts your internet traffic, even on public Wi-Fi.

Tip #3: Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by ensuring those accessing online accounts are who they say they are. MFA requires multiple verification methods to log in to websites, a search engine like Google Chrome, and mobile third-party apps. The first factor is typically something you know like a password or PIN. The second factor can be something you have (like your phone) or something you are (like your fingerprint).

Enabling MFA is generally straightforward on most platforms. Here’s a basic overview:

  1. Look for a security section within your account settings.
  2. Locate the MFA, multi-factor authentication, or multi-factor authentication option.
  3. Choose your second factor—it can be an authenticator app, SMS verification, or security key.
  4. Follow the platform’s specific instructions—this will typically involve scanning a QR code or entering a code on your screen.

Tip #4: Regular Software Updates

Software updates fix vulnerabilities that expose your device and data to hackers. Think of vulnerabilities as holes in your digital defenses. A security update seals these holes, making it harder for hackers to steal your personal information, infect your device with malware, or take control of your system.

Updates also improve software performance, reducing the likelihood of crashes or errors in the operating system that could potentially be exploited by attackers. Similarly, you stay ahead of cyber threats by implementing the latest security measures instead of keeping default settings.

Tip #5: Beware of Phishing Attempts

Phishing attacks use fraudulent emails, text messages, or websites to persuade individuals to provide usernames, passwords, and credit card details. The attacker tricks you into giving up sensitive information by disguising themselves as your bank, credit card company, or a trusted institution.

Here are some tips for identifying phishing scams:

  • Check the sender’s email address—phishing email addresses are similar to legitimate ones but have slight variations or misspellings
  • Phishing emails often use generic greetings like “Dear Customer” instead of your name.
  • Check for spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Phishing messages often use threatening language to pressure you into taking action
  • Verify suspicious emails by contacting the company through their official website or customer service
  • Never provide passwords, credit card details, or personal information in response to an email or message.

If you receive a suspicious email or message:

  • Don’t click on any links or attachments
  • Don’t reply to the sender—responding confirms your email address to scammers
  • Report the email or message as phishing
  • Forward the email to the legitimate company it’s impersonating

Tip #6: Control Personal Information on Social Media

Social media accounts may connect you to the rest of the world, but they’re also gateways to your personal information. You can take control of your digital footprint by reviewing your privacy settings on social platforms. Consider limiting your posts, photos, and personal information to friends and trusted connections. That means only accepting friend requests from people you know.

Additionally, be cautious about what you post online—sharing your full birthdate, address, mobile number, or other sensitive information about your real life exposes you to identity theft and scams.

Tip #7: Use Secure Websites

A secure website will display “HTTPS” at the beginning of the URL, instead of just “HTTP.” The “S” stands for “secure” and signifies the website uses an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate encrypts the data exchanged between your browser and the website’s server, making the information unreadable to anyone trying to intercept it.

You can click on the padlock icon next to the URL in the address bar and select “Certificate” or “View Certificate” to ensure the certificate is valid and issued by a trusted authority. Without HTTPS, any data you submit during online shopping could be intercepted, putting your financial information and identity at risk.

Tip #8: Secure Physical Documents

When financial documents are not securely stored and disposed of, your bank statements and social security number can fall into the wrong hands, exposing you to identity theft. Your information can be used to open accounts, get credit cards, and even commit crimes. Here’s how to secure sensitive physical documents.

  • Shred sensitive documents before disposing of them—double-check the files so you don’t throw away what you need
  • If you must keep digital copies, use end-to-end encryption for extra security
  • Store important documents like passports, social security cards, and financial statements in a secure, fireproof safe or lockbox
  • Organize and label documents for easy retrieval
  • Periodically review your documents and dispose of those you no longer need
  • Use data-wiping software or services before disposing of computers, smartphones, or other electronic devices that may contain sensitive information

Tip #9: Monitor Your Online Footprint

Type your name on search engines and see what comes up in search results. This way, you know what is available about you online and address any potential privacy risks or inaccuracies. Updating privacy settings also controls who sees your information and what they see, protecting you from identity theft.

Reviewing your digital footprint shields you from unwanted attention and harassment, especially if you have open profiles.

Tip #10: Use Security Software

Protect your digital security by installing reputable antivirus and anti-malware software on all your devices, including desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The software acts as a vigilant digital guard, constantly scanning files, emails, and websites for viruses, spyware, and ransomware. This way, you don’t have to worry about software threats stealing your personal information, corrupting your files, or holding your data hostage.

Bonus Tip: Use The Free SecurLOCK™ Equip App With Your NobleBank Cards

Enjoy a new level of control and protection over your NobleBank cards with the free SecurLOCK™ Equip app. With SecurLOCK Equip, you decide when your cards can be used by turning them “on” or “off.” Plus, you can set up alerts based on spending limits, location, and more.


Online life has its share of threats to stay vigilant against. To protect your personal information online, use strong, unique passwords, secure your networks, enable multi-factor authentication, and keep your software updated. Additionally, control the information you share on social media, ensure the websites you visit are safe, secure physical documents, and monitor your online footprint.