Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Navigating The Online Safety Minefield

You might be surprised what sorts of personal online information can be used by the wrong people against you. Some things like a home address or social security number are pretty obvious. The trouble is that seemingly harmless items can provide crooks of all kinds just the right key to access your home or bank account or even engage in identity theft with your personal details.

Real Name
While many people use their real names on social media pages, it's typically a good idea to use a pseudonym, at least for your surname. Most websites store user information in a cloud of some kind. An example of the cloud being compromised by hackers was the Heartbleed Bug, which allowed hackers to access cloud-stored information and find tons of real names, which they were able to link to other sensitive information. This demonstrates how important it is for companies to choose trusted hosting providers, like SingleHop, to host their IT infrastructure. While new IT security measures have made it more difficult for hackers to access secure cloud servers, it's still a good idea to be especially cautious when it comes to Internet security. If you’re interested in seeing what types of servers are available to companies looking for a host, check out SingleHop’s page on dedicated servers.

Birth Date
There has been a huge rise in cyber crime in the past 5 years. Any information that will help someone identify you should be kept private.  Your birth date is an easy way for someone to find out which John Smith you are. It can be used to track down other pieces of information such as where you've lived before. It could be used by an identity thief to create false documents such as a state driver's license.

Security Question Answers
A common method used by secure websites is to ask about personal things like the name of your childhood pet, the town you grew up in, or your mother's maiden name. This information can easily slip out on your personal page, even in the form of an old picture. This gives thieves just what they need to break into an online bank account or similar asset. These questions are asked by these sites in case you can't remember your password. With this information, the bad guys won't need your password to commit cyber crime.

Vacation Plans
I understand the desire to share exciting news, such as upcoming trips. However, I avoid sharing this information online, and I wait until I arrive back at home to share pictures of our excursions. The reason is simple. You may think you are sharing the information only with your family and friends, but can you be sure of that? There have been many cases of burglars discovering that someone will be away from home due to online postings on social media sites.
While I'm browsing the Internet, all kinds of information is being collected about me. Advertisers use this to customize the ads I see online. Some of it is to make recommendations on things I should look at. When you have the option to give out information about yourself, think twice about who wants this and what they might do with it. What you choose not to share might just make the difference.