Privacy is important when you’re online, especially when you’re using social media and engaging with strangers. Almost all social media sites have privacy controls that allow users to dictate what people see on their accounts, but they often don’t realize that even if they have the strongest security settings in place, their username gives them away. While a reverse username lookup tool can find the identity behind most usernames, an insecure username can make it even easier. Here are tips for creating a secure username that will keep you safer on the Internet.
Don’t Use Your Name in Your Username
Research has shown that most people use some version of their real names as their usernames for every site they create an account for. In fact, all 200 of the top most popular usernames in the world were first names. You might think that using your first name isn’t giving away all that much information, but it’s a piece of the puzzle that you’re giving people without making them work for it. It’s much harder to find a person with an anonymous username than it is a person who uses JohnK as their username.
Think about a data breach, which is, unfortunately, becoming more frequent all the time. If a hacker has usernames, they can match those up with the full names of people who have accounts with the company they hacked. Suddenly, they have a lot of information about those people and can perform various phishing activities to get you to give your other information to them. For instance, they may try to prove they are legitimate by showing you they have your name and username in a phishing text or email.
Don’t Use a Common Date
Birth dates and anniversary dates are other common parts of usernames, but again, this gives people who are looking to do you harm more information than they had before. For example, by putting your birth date after your name as your username, the thief now has a piece of data that many companies use to confirm your identity before discussing your account information with you over the phone.
So, a scammer can contact your bank and confirm both your username and your birth date to possibly gain permission to change your password or wire money somewhere. This might seem far-fetched, but thieves are always finding ways to convince people to give them their personal information or that of others. Don’t take the chance by providing any identifying information in your username that could be used to access your accounts.
Use a Different Username for All Sites
As creatures of habit, people tend to use the same username for every online account they create. They do this to make them easier to remember, but what they don’t think about is that if a hacker gains access to one account with a username, they can then use that username to attempt to breach other accounts as well. It might be a pain, but it’s best to assign a different username for every account you create.
It’s getting harder to stay anonymous online all the time, what with the various lookup tools that are available to help people identify you. But don’t make it easier on them by using unsecure usernames. Use these tips to make your usernames stronger and more secure.