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Why is online data privacy important?

Discussion in 'Domain Name News' started by Acorn Newsbot, Apr 23, 2013.

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  1. Acorn Newsbot

    Acorn Newsbot Junior Member

    Jan 2006
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    The internet feels perfectly safe to most of us, a place in which we freely exchange and share ideas, opinions, discoveries and fun stuff, buy the things we need easily and quickly, join communities and networks, meet new friends and influence people. But like everything in life there’s a darker side – it’s important to know about the risks and essential to protect against them.*

    What happens when data privacy goes wrong?

    You wouldn’t go round freely giving out your personal details to strangers offline. While it’s tempting to share everything on the internet without a second thought, it’s dangerous. It makes sense to protect your personal data online the same way you’d take care of your privacy in the real world.

    Here are some of the things that can happen if someone else gets hold of your data and decides to use it for malicious purposes.

    •*Your email address is added to a spam network, which will send you spam messages for the foreseeable future. Once your email address is on their databases, it can be incredibly hard to remove it. Often it’s best simply to set up a new account.
    •*Your personal and financial data is stolen and used for identity theft, putting you at risk of all sorts of terrible things. They might commit fraud under your name, clean out your bank account or even break into your home while you’re at work
    •*You install a piece of malicious code onto your mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop PC without realising it. It adds your machine to a zombie network, sending out malicious spam or carrying out Denial Of Service (DNS) attacks (which make online services unavailable to users) on businesses’ and individuals’ websites
    •*Your social media account is hacked and the hackers send out a load of offensive messages from your account. Or they hack into your mail account and use your email address to send millions of pieces of virus-filled spam to other people
    •*You make your real name and location public and end up being stalked online**

    How to keep your online data safe

    Luckily, there are plenty of common sense steps you can take to keep your online data secure.

    Antivirus protection

    Ensure every gadget that has access to the internet is protected with the best possible antivirus software. You need antivirus software on laptops, smartphones, tablets and desktops. Some of the most popular, well-known and top-rated antivirus software comes from:

    •*Trend Micro

    Setting powerful passwords

    Make your passwords as long and complicated as you can and create a different one for every account, from social media to file sharing, home Wi-Fi, online shopping and banking. Keep a spreadsheet of your passwords on a USB stick so hackers can’t get to it.

    A strong password looks like this:

    •*As random as possible, never personal or something that identifies you
    •*At least 8 characters long
    •*A combination of letters, numbers and symbols

    Protecting your data in the cloud

    •*Make your our privacy settings ‘private’ so only you and the cloud provider can see your files
    •*Check the cloud provider’s terms and conditions to make sure you own your data. Remember the case with Instagram last year, when they tried to claim ownership of all users’ pictures! However, they quickly backed down, after users expressed their strong disapproval.
    •*Check they will encrypt your data for you, and that you can both encrypt your data before you send it and open it at the other end

    Data safety on social networks

    •*Check out the security and privacy settings and set them to maximum so as few people as possible have* access to your personal information, blocking everyone but the people you know and trust
    •*Limit the amount of personal information you include in the first place
    •*Never include financial details or identifiers such as your National Insurance, PIN or account* numbers
    •*Always remember to think before accepting any requests. Only accept new ‘friend’ invitations from people you know and trust
    •*Don’t tell everyone online you’re going on holiday – the world will know you’re not home!
    •*Don’t share information often used in security questions, such as birthdays, your mum’s maiden name, your address, your pets’ names and so on
    •*Always read the terms and conditions, even though they’re deadly dull, so you know exactly what, if anything, the network will use your data for

    Protecting your email account

    •*Only give your email address to people you trust
    •*Set up separate email addresses for socialising and business
    •*Create an email address that’s difficult for spammers and other mischief makers to guess
    •*Use JavaScript to hide your email address on your website, or set up a web form
    •*Always read privacy policies and use marketing opt-outs to tell organisations not to send messages to you
    •*Never respond to spam emails. Don’t even open them, just hover and delete
    •*Never click on links in spam emails or any email where you don’t know the source
    •*Use a spam email filter to separate and block spam. Most good ISPs (internet service providers) offer spam filters – check to see if yours does

    Wi-Fi security

    Unsecured home Wi-Fi connections make hackers’ lives easy. Check the instructions for the technical details, then:

    •*Change the wireless network’s default settings to something else and make the names and passwords you use as obscure as you can
    •*Use encryption to scramble your data. Experts recommend Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2) because it’s more complex than Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)
    •*Hide your network ID by changing the router settings so it doesn’t broadcast your ID
    •*Make sure your device isn’t set to auto-connect to any old Wi-Fi signal and can’t connect to dangerous networks by mistake
    •*Use every security setting to its full advantage – they all differ, so check your manual

    The 1998 UK Data Protection Act

    The 1998 UK Data Protection Act is useful if you feel that a legitimate business holding your data is using it in a way you don’t like. But it’s not much use for spammers and criminals, who don’t care about the law. The Information Commissioner’s Office website includes full details of what data can and can’t legally be used, and what for. They also provide an excellent guide to the ins and outs of how to tell if you’re the victim of Identity Theft and what to do about it.

    Cleaning data off your old machine before you get rid of it

    It’s vital to completely delete personal information before you dispose of hardware. That means stripping it out of desktops, laptops, external hard drives, gaming consoles, mobiles, tablets, faxes, printers and removable USB storage. The Information Commissioner’s Office site also includes guidance about how to delete data from devices.

    Any questions?

    Join the conversation - post your data privacy questions on Facebook and we’ll do our best to answer them.

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    Acorn Domains Elite Member

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