The internet is being used to share more data than ever before. Every two days we create as much information as we did in total up to 2003 (IBM 2014). But is all of this information we share online safe? And is every action we take online being tracked and monitored?
The internet provides us with the opportunity to do so many things from the ‘safe’ vicinity of our own home. We can talk to friends via social media, shop online, book flights … you name it: it seems like the entire world is just one click away. You can basically track a person’s life just by looking at their internet history: so if big companies had access to all of this data, could they use it against you?
Every website I go on stores data on me in the form of cookies. This data can be in the form of search history, social network links, browsing history… basically data is being collected on my entire internet usage. Kind of scary to think that powerful companies have access to all of this information.
What can happen if all of this data falls into the wrong hands?
If these companies get hacked into (which has been know to happen!), your bank accounts, passwords and security details are exposed.
Check out information about the most recent hack on Yahoo here.
Phishing is when websites, e-mail and phone calls are created with the intent of stealing your money. This theft can be carried out in a number of ways:
- asking you to fill in your bank details , maybe in the form of a tax return or a conformation of purchase
- downloading malicious software that can read all of your personal details
How to spot a phisherman
- Cyber criminals aren’t known for their impeccable spelling and impressive grammar: look out for errors in the text that wouldn’t be there in genuine e-mails.
- Be wary of links included in e-mails. Clicking these might lead you to a untrustworthy site or may start a download of malicious software.
- E-mails that ask you to fill in your information online. Not many companies would contact you through e-mail when it comes to such sensitive information. HMRC, for example, would only ever ask you to fill in private details via a postal form.
- E-mail addresses that appear to be from a big and well known company but have slight differences in the format. For example: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Use your common sense: if you don’t play Farmville and you’ve received an e-mail saying you owe Facebook £64 for your Farmville usage, you might be getting conned.
So be safe surfers! Next week we will look at whether you should believe everything you read online…