How to prevent personal data theft on the Internet

Undoubtedly, the internet has revolutionized the world and offers great advantages and opportunities in our professional and social lives. However, it has also led to the emergence of new vulnerabilities in our personal security due to the interconnection of computers.

Therefore, nowadays, if we do not take appropriate precautions, our personal data, professional documents, photographs, bank accounts, etc., are at risk and can be easily stolen. Here are the key steps to avoid this situation:


1. Browse secure websites

Navigate on secure websites. To determine if a website is secure, check for HTTPS or a small padlock icon in the web address bar of your browser when visiting a webpage.

If these indicators are not present, avoid browsing those websites. Currently, there are thousands of websites on the internet, so if you come across one that is not secure, simply visit another. You will find plenty of websites with the content you are looking for that are also completely secure.


2. Use strong and unique passwords

When signing up for websites, never use weak passwords. In fact, most platforms will require you to enter a password with a minimum length of 8 characters, including a special character, an uppercase letter, and a number. This alone should provide decent access security, but if possible, strengthen your password with a longer length, especially for sensitive platforms such as online banking or personal email.

Avoid using personal information such as your street address, city of birth, or date of birth as part of your passwords just to make them easier to remember. Using such information puts your security at serious risk, as it becomes easier for hackers to crack your password.

Lastly, never develop the habit of duplicating passwords and using the same password for everything. If a website where you are registered experiences a major cyber attack and your data is stolen, those cybercriminals would have access to all your online accounts.


3. Make use of USB drives

Backing up your most sensitive personal data has multiple advantages:

  • If your computer is infected with a Trojan, your data will not be vulnerable as long as you keep your USB drive disconnected.
  • In case your computer stops working due to age or a simple malfunction, your data will not be lost.
  • You will avoid filling up your computer’s internal memory, which will make it run faster.
  • You can keep your USB drive in a secure place, so if your computer is stolen, your memory’s information will remain safe.

Currently, USB drives are very affordable. In the following link, we provide an incredible deal for a USB drive that will be more than sufficient for storing your work documents (Word or Excel files) and personal files (photos or videos).


4. Be wary of suspicious emails

It may seem unbelievable, but there are still people who fall for scams and cybercriminal tricks. Here are some general recommendations to keep in mind:

  • Do not open links from unknown sources in emails. They may lead you to malicious websites.
  • Do not provide any personal information via email. Emails from unknown sources that urgently request personal information are often scams. Keep in mind that your bank will never ask for your data or personal information via email.
  • Do not accept gifts or prizes that you never participated in. It may sound like common sense, but many people still fall for this old trick.


5. Get a good antivirus program

At the very least, use a free antivirus program and keep it up to date. If you extensively use the internet, occasionally visit unknown websites, frequently make online purchases, or frequently download online content, it is highly recommended to invest in a good antivirus program for full online protection against hackers, safeguarding your personal data, and securing your payment methods.

Contrary to what one might expect, paid antivirus programs are not very expensive nowadays, and considering the comprehensive protection they offer, they are quite beneficial for heavy internet users. In the following link, you have the option to subscribe to a highly reputable antivirus program for a very affordable price for one year. The antivirus provides extensive security coverage and is compatible with major electronic devices (PCs, Macs, mobiles, and tablets). Additionally, you can choose the option to subscribe to the same antivirus for multiple devices at once!


6. Avoid downloading files from unknown sources

If you download files online, make sure to do it from reputable and secure websites. Be aware that many cybercriminals take advantage of your acceptance to receive downloads from their websites to send viruses that can infect your computer. Their objectives often include:

  • Encrypting your computer and demanding payment to obtain a decryption program for your files.
  • Stealing sensitive personal data or files, such as compromising photographs, and demanding a ransom in exchange for not making them public.
  • Gaining access to your bank accounts to carry out illegitimate transfers and take possession of your savings.


7. Consider using a professional computer without internet access

If you are a professional who handles highly sensitive client data (personal information, bank accounts, confidential documents), in addition to having a good antivirus and using updated official programs, it may be a good idea to have a computer without internet connection or with restricted access solely for professional use (to visit official government websites, suppliers, clients, etc.). This way, your computer cannot be infected by any virus.


8. Be cautious with social media

It may seem surprising, but nowadays internet users often experience data breaches, leaks of sensitive information, or compromising photos more frequently due to sharing them themselves on social media rather than experiencing cyber theft.

Be aware that whatever you post can be seen by everyone and can have consequences for many years to come. For example, a compromising photo that may seem funny and worth sharing with friends during your youth can ruin your professional career as an adult. Imagine the leak of a photo of a politician appearing drunk as a teenager. It would be the end of their career, and the same applies to multiple professions that require public trust, such as teachers, doctors, police officers, financial advisors, etc.

Additionally, never accept invitations or add people you don’t know. Keep in mind that whatever you share will be visible to others. Even seemingly innocent information can become a problem, such as announcing on social media that you will be on vacation for a week on the other side of the world, which essentially tells everyone that your house will be empty and “ready to be easily robbed” during that time!


9. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks

If possible, avoid using open public wireless networks and under no circumstances share sensitive personal data or banking information, as these networks are not secure and your information can be easily stolen.

Instead, connect to private networks with WPA or WPA2 security that require a password for access. In these networks, all information is encrypted from your device to the network server.


10. Don’t save default passwords

Never save your passwords in your browser, as anyone who connects to your mobile or computer will have the same access as you to all your private areas of the internet (email accounts, banking platforms, online store personal areas, etc.).


11. Regularly clear your browsing history

Clearing your internet browser history is relatively easy and ensures a certain level of privacy. While we browse, our data is processed and stored, leaving a digital trail recorded in our browser.

By clearing the history, we erase this digital footprint we leave behind while browsing, ensuring greater privacy.


12. Keep programs updated

It’s crucial to keep your computer programs updated, especially your browser and antivirus software, as viruses and cybercrimes are constantly evolving. To maintain your security, you should have constantly updated protection.


13. Make purchases on secure and reputable platforms

Before providing your credit card information online, make sure the online store you are purchasing from is fully trustworthy. It is recommended to make purchases on platforms from recognized and reputable companies.

If you have to buy from unfamiliar online stores, check forums for reviews and opinions from other users to verify the security guarantee of that website. Take extra precautions if the prices are suspiciously low.


14. Protect your mobile device

Many people mistakenly protect their computers but do not take any actions to protect their mobile phones, assuming they are 100% secure. However, this is false. Current mobile phones, being connected to the internet, potentially have the same vulnerabilities and risks as a computer. Therefore, we must protect our mobile phones in the same way we protect our computers, by installing a good antivirus.


15. Be careful when using work computers

Almost everyone nowadays needs to use a computer or mobile phone for work. Be cautious about what you browse on the internet, as it is highly possible that your superiors have access to your browsing activities, and this can have consequences. Limit your internet usage on work devices to strictly work-related matters. If you need to search for something personal, use your personal mobile phone.

Additionally, it is important not to share your user codes with colleagues, and never leave your work station without logging out of your session; otherwise, any colleague could have access to your entire work profile.


How to respond to personal data theft on the internet?

Depending on your situation, you should act accordingly:

A) Encryption of your computer and ransom demand

It is not advisable to accept the blackmail of cybercriminals since, in most cases, they will provide you with a key to recover your files, but these files will still contain malicious viruses. After a while, your computer will become encrypted again, and they will demand a new payment. The recommended action is to format your computer. If you don’t know how to do it, take your computer to a professional IT technician who can quickly clean the viruses from your computer. Finally, forget about recovering your files. Only if you are a professional or a company with sensitive data, report the situation to the police. If the cybercriminal gang is dismantled, there may be a chance to obtain the necessary code to decrypt your information, although this is highly unlikely.

B) Theft from your bank account

Notify your bank immediately to block your account and file a police report. Your financial institution will guide you through the steps to request the return of your money and the necessary process to follow. Your bank may provide you with a new account or modify your online banking security credentials.

C) Theft of personal or intimate data and subsequent demand for money to prevent their disclosure

Do not accept the blackmail, as even if you pay, they will likely demand a new amount of money later on. Remember that they will still have your compromised data at all times. Simply report your situation to the police and inform your harasser that any publication of your personal data will result in legal actions taken against them. This can have a significant deterrent effect, and your harasser may stop blackmailing you. Keep in mind that they gain nothing by publishing your data and expose themselves to severe legal repercussions from you.



The internet is an incredible place for professional and academic development, as well as a great source of entertainment and fun. However, we must be aware of its dangers and take measures to protect ourselves. By applying the aforementioned measures that best suit your personal situation and internet usage, you will be fully protected and able to browse with peace of mind.

Finally, if you are concerned about your children’s internet usage, do not hesitate to read our article on how to protect your children online.