Every three seconds someone’s identity is stolen! How at risk are you?

With social media channels like Facebook and Twitter remaining as popular as ever, cyber criminals are able to access a wealth of personal information online.

Even if you think you’re being cautious with your privacy settings, you could still be vulnerable to a cyber-attack – particularly if you allow third-party applications to be installed when downloading software from the web.

Once a user’s information such as location, date of birth and family connections has been logged, this can be used to hack into an account, such as banking and online storage.

Here’s 8.5 tips to make your online experience a safer place.

1. Exclude important personal information from your social media profiles.
Details like your phone number, address, children’s age or school can all present ways for hackers to glean more knowledge. On Facebook, that means:
a) Culling any ‘friends’ you don’t know,
b) Minimising the details in your ‘About Me’ section,
c) Be selective about hitting the ‘like’ button.
Doing this will make you harder to find – particularly when Facebook’s new search tool, Graph Search, is rolled out in the UK.

2. Check your social media privacy settings.
Change all Facebook settings to “Friends Only” for all posts for a more secure profile. Facebook often makes changes to these settings and, when it does so, can even reset your secure settings.

3. Protect your online passwords and strengthen them too.
Many use passwords we won’t easily forget, like 1234, the word ‘password’, our birth dates, or our home towns. But the rule is, if they’re easy to remember, they’re easy to crack, too.
If you want to test the strength of your password, try ‘Ask The Geek Password Meter’ which gives you a rating of a password you type in. Try it here.

4. Check your phone’s privacy settings.
Turning your GPS location settings to “off” can also keep your whereabouts more private.

5. Watch out for ‘phishing’ emails.
Spam email is getting more and more sophisticated. Never respond to any emails with account info or passwords. Banks will never ever ask for your information in this way. If in doubt, call the bank directly to check or, better still, delete the email.

6. Keep your communications networks secure.
Password protect your Wi-Fi so hackers in the local area can’t use your connection to carry out malicious activity.

7. Look out for the https://
Before entering payment details into any website, check the web address has an ‘s’ – which stands for secure – after the http. If it doesn’t, don’t use it.

8. Keep a close eye on your bank statements.
Really savvy people cross check their receipts with the payment history on their statements, but this isn’t absolutely necessary – just keep an eagle eye out for any unfamiliar transactions to recipients you’ve never heard of.

8.5. Monitor post you get through your door, as well as online.
Be alert to anything suspicious in the mail, like pre-approved credit cards you’ve not applied for and other financial offers.