Internet security and your information
Mark Mathieson, Tuesday March 8, 2016
Is my personal and sensitive information safe?The security of our personal information has never been under more threat and yet we continue to transmit our details, pictures and private information over the Internet. We often do this using email or by sharing our photos in various ways such as SMS or Instagram. Our messages and photos traverse the Internet and normally find their way to their intended destination – or so we hope! All the while, we often do so without thinking about who could be trying to access the information and how well secured it is. Even more worrying is that our sensitive information may pass through many servers located in different countries before it gets to its destination.
Do you trust the Internet?Research* tells us that over 90% of people do not trust the Internet. When you look at some of the facts, it is not surprising. One example was the “Heartbleed” vulnerability, which went undetected for 2 years before it was discovered in April 2014. An estimated 60% of the Internet may have been affected including some of the best known companies such as Google, Netflix, NASA and Instagram. Some of the biggest data loses in recent years include Sony Playstation (77 million people), Target (70 million) and Adobe (38 million). The trend continues with Malware that attack iPhones breaking into the top 20 most virulent threats and a dangerous Android banking Trojan (Acecard) capable of attacking nearly 50 different online financial apps and services. The main problem is that your information is valuable. Companies harvest it and store it away for future use. The mere fact that it is there, leaves you vulnerable.
What can you do to help?There are some simple things that will reduce your risk, including:
- Use a strong password that includes capitals, numbers and special characters such as ^+!@.
- Never re-use a password on different websites
- Change your passwords regularly
- Encrypt your personal data
- Keep an encrypted copy somewhere safe – not on the Internet
- Don’t accept device or App permissions you don’t understand
- Don’t send personal information or private pictures by email
- Don’t open or act on emails that are too good to be true
- If in doubt stop, think and then stop.