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Playing it safe online

Liezl Hesketh in Tips 


How to keep your identity and information safe online

The Internet is a wonderful place. It is filled with experiences, information, photos, stats, data and millions of people. It provides hours of entertainment and makes our lives so much easier and connected through internet banking, emails and social media.

The digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply 10-fold between 2013 and 2020 – from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes.”– EMC Corporation

But, the Internet is not immune to criminals, scams and corruption. According to Interpol, cybercrime is the fastest-growing area of crime with criminals capitalising on the internet’s speed, convenience and anonymity. Naïve users get a false sense of security when they access the online world from behind the screen of a computer or mobile device. They think that because no one can see them, they and their actions online are safe from prying eyes. Nothing could be further from the truth and users need to realise that just because they can’t see online friends, acquaintances or strangers in the real world it automatically means that they are guarded against crime. The internet is an information hoarder. Behind every website is a marketer, entrepreneur, troll, student, hacker organisation who wants to know more about their visitors and their online behaviour. They try to capture as much information as possible through login registrations, newsletter sign-ups, surveys, etc. It has become critical for each internet user to safeguard their identity and information by realising the threats and taking precautionary actions.

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Keeping your identity safe online

Don’t share personal information. We all know not to share PIN numbers, passwords and bank details online. However, it would be wise not to share your full name, address, Identity Number and phone number on social networks, blogs and websites as well.

Read Website Privacy Policies. Before submitting personal information, always read the privacy policy of a website to see how they will use that information. Don’t complete forms if you are not happy with the terms and agreements.

Change privacy settings. Most social networks offer users a variety of choices when it comes to how they want other people to see and interact with the information that they share on a specific network. Check the privacy settings of all social networks on a regular basis since these may change without major public announcements.

Make sure the connection is secure. E-commerce transactions and online banking is not immune to data theft either. When it comes to online transactions, always check a website’s connection to ensure a safe and secure experience. When a website’s URL begins with “https” instead of “http” it means the site is using an SSL Certificate that secures all data passing from the browser to the website’s server.

Update passwords regularly.  Never use the same password for all logins. Always create a unique password for each registration and keep these passwords in a secure place that can’t be easily hacked – or even better, memorise them!


Less is more secure

What happens online, stays online. Data is always captured somewhere, even if you delete it and think no one has seen it. Most data can be protected if users are aware of the risks and vigilant when it comes to protecting their personal information.

Did you know?The code in your browser that powers Facebook still knows what you typed – even if you decide not to publish it” –