Protect your identity

Monday 28 January is the annual privacy day and is a good time to have a think about your online identity and, more importantly, keeping it safe. To help everyone do this there are some simple tips.

Whether you run a business or just use the internet at home, you need to make everyone who uses it aware that there are risks involved.

If you shop online, use reputable sites and type the address of the site, such as Amazon, into the address window rather than clicking on links that could take you to what looks like Amazon but is actually a fraudulent site. When checking out on sites make sure that the site’s address starts with https, this shows that it meets certain security standards.

If you do online banking never repeat the passwords or PINs that you use on those sites. In fact try not to repeat any of your passwords from site to site, although it is hard not to with the number of passwords we have to remember.

For those who use social networks such as Facebook, be careful about what information you give out about yourself. I’m continually amazed at the number of people’s Facebook profiles where the person displays their full date of birth, where they were born and where they live. Putting this information in such an open way is just inviting others to come in and clone your identity. Just think about how you prove who you are when you are challenged. It’s not hard for people to find that information too, so keep it as safe as you can.

Be careful about what you say on sites like Facebook and Twitter and only turn on the geolocation features if you really feel that you want to show everyone where you go and what you do. There have been cases where people have tagged their location on pictures they take and scammers have been able to work out where that person lived and worked and take advantage of that information.

The basis of keeping your identity safe online is that of common sense. Would you walk up and down the road shouting out where you live, when you were born and what your mother’s maiden name was? I know the answer, but sometimes the way we act online is just like that statement and we need to be more careful.