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Online Vulnerability - Protect Your Personal Information

Updated on October 29, 2014

One of the main challenges of today is to enjoy the ease of internet without the fear of compromising privacy, so here we are with the first edition of our online security series intended to give you an idea about security issues that we may face online. Everything from our birthday celebrations, hangouts, activities, interests, employment history, bank account to other personal details are easily available online for everyone to see like an open book. Any data that we put on our PCs, tablets, Smart Phones, laptop is out there accessible to everyone and can be used in whichever way they want to.

Everything going through Facebook, Google +, Twitter, YouTube has already been cracked, so don’t expect your data to be 100% secure even in the hands of these giants. These social media sites hold data of more than 1 billion people. These sites are valuable asset for hackers, digital marketing companies, government agencies.

Just to give you an idea about the significance of the issue, 17430 cases of online fraud have been reported in England and Wales so far in 2014, which comprises of 40% non-investment fraud, 19% advanced fee payments fraud, 12% banking and credit fraud, 11% computer misuse and 18% others. Everything that you do online leaves behind a digital trail, so it is very important to be careful in the online world.

Here are a few tips for your safe surfing:

1. Think Before Sharing Anything

There are some things that are meant to be kept secret. You cannot expect your mobile phone to be silent if your contact number is available online. Know who all can access your profile details. Don’t just give your credit card details to every other website or to some random caller claiming to be from a reputed organization working for charity. The only person you should be careful of online is you. Try avoiding application that shares your location online. You don’t want your boss to catch you grabbing a bite with your girlfriend when you are supposed to be working. There are cases where people have actually lost their job because of information disclosed on the internet that was not intended for everyone to see.

2. Web Browsing

Web browsing activities are tracked by use of cookies. Cookies are installed on your desktop by the websites that you visit, so make sure you regularly check and delete the cookies. You can avoid cookie by turning on “Private browsing”. It's called ‘Incognito’ by chrome; Internet Explorer offers it by the name of ‘InPrivate browsing’. This mode doesn’t block cookies, but it deletes cookies after you turn off private browsing mode.

On some websites you may end up downloading Spyware, Trojan viruses. Remember the “Congratulations!! 1000000th lucky visitor” sign popping up every time. Now ask yourself for how many times you can be the 1000000th lucky visitor. Had it been true, I would have gotten credit of 30000$ in my bank account thrice a day.

3. Cloud Data Storage

It is really easy to access data from the cloud. Everything that is out there belongs to the online service that you use, not to you. Owing it to the outdated rules of Electronic Communications Privacy Act (1986), this cloud based data is vulnerable to privacy loopholes. Current law considers data stored on a server for more than 180 days as abandoned. It is not legally protected in the same way that it would have been if it were located on a storage device you own. So the thumb rule that you can follow here would be if you don’t want something to be accessed by somebody, just don’t put it in the cloud.

4. Multiple Authentication:

Google offers this feature. Besides normal password authentication you can also have a temporary password created every time you log in which is sent to your mobile. So even if your password is compromised, you are still on the safe side.

5. Wireless Services:

If you are one of them who have their Bluetooth switched on 24*7 or access open WI-Fi in public places, think again. Anybody can snoop on you. The least you could do is to make sure that you are using encrypted HTTPS rather than unsecured HTTP connection. These are prefixes to every URL on the web. HTTPS should be used while entering sensitive data into form fields on a website. While data in HTTP is transmitted in clear text and can be read by anyone, HTTPS uses Secure Socket Layer to encrypt the data and making it difficult for hackers to decipher.

Conclusion

Follow these simple steps and you are good to go online. However, considering the vast number of possibilities in today’s digital era you can never be 100% assured. Surf Smart and Stay Safe!

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