This week is officially ‘Get Safe Online Week’ here in the UK which got me thinking about my own approach to online safety. Like most people, I’m not as disciplined as I should be with updating my passwords and using a different password at each site. I’ve also unwittingly disclosed personal information like my date of birth and private email address on social networking sites in the past. Hardly the crimes of the century, I hear you cry, but nonetheless still silly mistakes that leave me potentially vulnerable to online identity fraud.
I spent most of yesterday talking on various radio stations around the UK explaining the simple steps people can take to protect themselves while online. Now it’s time for me to follow my own advice and make my online life a little safer. Here’s what’s on my ‘to do’ list:
- Remove any personally identifying information from social networking sites. Things like my hometown, date of birth, and telephone numbers are really valuable to identity thieves.
- Update and double check my wireless network security settings at home. There are 7.8 million unsecured wireless networks in the UK, all of them at risk of eavesdropping, freeloading or other criminal acts. I want to make absolutely sure that my network isn’t one of them.
- Revisit those web sites where I’ve registered my details and make sure I use a different password at each site. Wherever I’ve used the same password on two sites there’s a risk of my personal data being compromised.
- Make more regular backups of my data. This is one of those jobs that I tend to leave for Friday afternoon, so it doesn’t always get done. Backing up data should be an automated routine.
- Tell everyone I know to follow the advice at www.getsafeonline.org so they can lock down their online security too. I want them to be safe, but on a purely selfish level I also don’t want my details being stolen from someone else’s computer.
I think I’ve made a pretty decent start on item number five, and hopefully done enough to get you started on the journey towards a safer online experience. Now to the other four items…