Personal information, its protection and security rank very high and if you have a computer you should be aware of the potential threats and risks to your personal information.
The more e-business is conducted online, the more our personal information is being used. This is not a bad thing, so long as secure protocols are in place to safeguard the information after it is utilized/collected.
Just what is being collected or utilized?
As users navigate their way through cyberspace, web sites collect and provide analysis of their data. Such data collected about anyone surfing through cyberspace may include:
- Identity verification, when requested. When E-Commerce transactions are made, your personal information may be requested to verify your identity, such as driver’s license number, phone number(s), address, etc.
- A data trail that follows credit card transactions–as well as in brick-and-mortar shops. Such information may include the amount purchased, a time stamp, etc.
- Standard web browsing data: name, IP address, browser specifications, geographical location, frequency of the site visits.
This is just a small sample of varieties of information collected, just to acquaint you with the data that can be gathered and stored. There are many various ways that personal information can be collected, but this short list is just to give common-level samples.
Here is small list of tips to help protect personal information on the web:
- SSL Protection. When submitting any purchase, credit card, or private information, never do it on a site that does not display the lock icon at the bottom of the browser. I personally stress the same thing for any site that requires a login. For example, switch the http with https when logging into Facebook, etc., in order to protect your information from being intercepted. HTTPS signifies a secure connection. This also applies for the email on the web. For Gmail, use the secure mode instead of the regular mode. It is better for it to run a fraction of a second slower than to compromise your email data.
- Do a frequent check of the settings on your browser (privacy, Internet security, etc.) to ascertain the current level of security in motion. The higher, the better.
- Encrypt your data. If you are storing personal or high-security information on your laptop, desktop, or portable device, utilize encryption software to safeguard your information in unfortunate case of your equipment being lost or stolen.
- Use a reliable anti-spyware/anti-adware software to protect your personal information from being extorted and used against you by low-lifes with malicious intent.
- Password protection. Use a strong password (mixture of case-sensitive letters, numbers, symbols) and change your password frequently.
- Be careful of the site(s) you are visiting. If you suspect a site to be a fraudulent one or trying to install something on your computer, navigate away from the site and don’t go to it any more. If the site is taking a very long time to load (on a high-speed connection) and your are in doubt, then leave it! (There is prophetic saying to “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which doesn’t cause doubt!” Simple enough, eh?)
- Ask questions about how your personal information will be handled before its submission. A legitimate company will never be offended by the inquiry of how personal information is handled. Be sure to ask what will be done with the information after the transaction(s); what will be done with the information in the future; and what will be done with the information in regards to third parties.
- Keep items with your personal information in a safe place. When you discard them, tear or shred them first, then burn them!
This list is not exhaustive, by any stretch; however, it is a good starting point for safegaurding your personal information. Here are some external web sites that will assist in the protection of your personal information:
- The Electronic Privacy Information Center: http://epic.org
- The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization: http://privacyrights.org
- Fight Identity Theft: http://www.fightidentitytheft.com