Protecting your personal information online

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You give personal information to businesses all the time when setting up online accounts, downloading online apps or using social media accounts. Personal information includes anything that can identify you including your name, address, date of birth and even your image. Businesses have a legal duty to keep your personal information safe but there is always the possibility they may lose it or it is stolen by a criminal. Take just a few extra steps to protect your personal information data and limit the risks.

Do not supply your personal business information

You must always think about the information a business is asking of you to give and why. If you are buying clothes online the business does not need to know your date of birth. If you are in a shop and they ask for your email address so they can send you the receipt, you can say no. Most businesses are asking for this information so they can contact you about their goods or services, however each time you give your information to a business you risk it being lost or stolen.

Treat your personal information as you would your most treasured possessions. You would not give them to a stranger so do not let your personal online information get into the wrong hands.

Keep your information secure

Your information is usually safe if:

  • the business uses a two-factor authentication use it, this adds an extra layer of security when accessing your accounts
  • you turn on all the privacy settings on your social media accounts. Some social media accounts, provide you with the option to be publicly shareable. This means you are sharing your profile with strangers. Your friends will know personal things about you like where you live and your birthday so don’t add information to a social media account that you wouldn’t want a stranger to see
  • you use very strong passwords and never use the same one more than once.
  • you use different security questions for each account. If you have used your mother’s maiden name as a security question for your bank account don’t use it for other accounts you use.

Online apps

You should only use a secure internet connection when using sites that require you to enter personal data and/or passwords, never use public WIFI as it may not be secure and everything you do could be intercepted.

Some apps suggest that they require access to systems or data for example your camera, microphone, photos and location services. If the app does not need that function to work, then do not give them access. If they do, then only turn it on when you use the app.

Find out what a business will do with the information they collect from you using an app. For example, some apps share an exercise you did with your list of friends or they may make it public by adding it to their website. You could be sharing where you live with strangers. Do not turn on apps that record where you live – wait until you are away from your home.

Businesses will hold onto your data even if you have stopped using your account or app. They will only delete it if they decide they do not want it or you have told them to. Make sure you follow the businesses process to delete or deactivate your account/s.