25 January 2019

Protecting yourself in cyberspace.

*This is a collaborative post*

After seeing a Facebook post about sharing data, which was one of those chain mail type posts, which went along the lines of share this post or else Facebook will steal all of your data tomorrow I was inspired to write this post. It makes a change from the usual chainmail which is like share this or else you will have to pay to use Facebook from now, or you'll have bad luck for 2324245 years if you don't. The fact of the matter is, how much do we even know about our own data being used online. With GDPR in place as of last year, a company has to be able to tell you what data they hold on you and you have the right to get this removed. However, this doesn't protect us from data breaches when a company loses control over their own data due to being hacked or other similar circumstances. The truth of the matter is, we can protect ourselves the best we can but the data is online and most of us have been subject to a breach at some point.  

The data in which is taken can range from anything such as usernames to your bank details, it's a scary thought. In the last 12 months, there have been huge companies who have suffered data breaches, to name but a few, Facebook, Superdrug and Ticketmaster. All companies that a lot of us use on a regular basis, Facebook being the biggest one. I noticed last year a fair few airline companies were targeted and around 380,000 people fell victim to this on the British Airways app, with personal and finical information stolen. Courtesy of Seareach an infographic was created, sharing the biggest data breaches of last year and some of them had me shocked as I didn't even know that they had happened. 

As boring of a topic as Cyber Security can be, as we all use the internet it is something we need to be aware of. As a breach can happen to any of us, and even those places you feel like you can be trusted with your details this isn't always so. A lot of the time sites are hacked for personal details such as payment information to use or sell on to other people. Sometimes these details are used to blackmail companies, and most of us aware of the Ashley Madison hack which involved people who used the site (a dating site for people who are already in relationships/marriages) having their personal details shared publically including their identity. The hack was done by a group who call themselves 'The Impact Team' and their request was to close down the site and the details wouldn't be leaked. However this wasn't done, and the details were leaked. Plus it led to many questions asked about the site, with fake accounts being revealed to pawn men onto the site. It was a huge deal in the online world and if you haven't read up about it/watched the documentary you should! It really opens your eyes to the dangers of sharing details online. 

You can find out what emails of yours have been compromised on Have I Been Pwned?
I found out I had been on my email from Tumblr, Adobe and MySpace to name but a few and Will had been a victim of a data breach on 7 sites which is a lot but the most bizarre thing was one of them was Neopets. 

So how can I protect myself in Cyberspace I hear you say?

Use different passwords: 
As simple as it may seem, use different passwords for everything. I am the first to admit I didn't do this until I was a victim to one of the breaches and it scared me to think about what other websites they could access with this data. I usually now use random strings for passwords rather than something personal which could easily be guessed at. Regularly update these passwords too, I like to do it every 3-6 months. 

Only share what you really need to:
The less personal data you share, the better. The more data out there about you, the easier it is for criminals to make profiles on you. This can end up with the data being sold illegally or stolen for other means such as fraud. 

Make your security questions more secure:
Which? advises using a variety of answers to your security questions as those are the easiest way to get into your personal accounts. You can make up the answers to questions such as mothers maiden name and the first street you ever lived on. You just need to remember them of course! 

I hope you found this post interesting and if you'd like any other posts like this, let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to get writing.