3 guidelines for sharing information online

There is a huge amount of disclosure whenever we use the internet. We give out our name and addresses to online shopping sites, emails for subscriptions, age and gender for competitions – the list goes on and on!

But just think about what all these details could be used for if cyber criminals got their hands on them. For instance, scammers can target you for false investment schemes or lure you into relationships based on the information you give away on your social media profile.

The price on personal data is getting higher and higher. Recent research from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that phishing, hacking and ID theft was reported in over a quarter of all scams in 20141 – and the risks will only grow as this data become more valuable. So how can you put a lid on this nefarious activity? Here are some guidelines for sharing information online:

 

1. Be aware of what you share

Do you know how much information you’re giving away? Yes? Think again! You might actually be leaking details without even realising it. Take your smartphone, for instance. Location services mean that whenever you post a message or picture online, a little geo tag lets anyone with access to your profile know where you are at the time. In fact, some models actually store where you’ve been and how long you stayed there – imagine how criminals could use this if your device is hacked or stolen.

Remember: The internet is a big, black hole of information. Once you share something – be it a photo, comment or message – it’s not always easy to get rid of completely if you change your mind. In fact, all this data can be saved in your browser’s cache. A cache is used to store information, meaning it doesn’t have to be collected from its original location, but it also means that it could potentially be seen by anyone.

It’s a good idea to clear out your cache regularly. Think of it like therapy: You’re starting your browsing history anew!

 

Stop and Before it is too Late words on Road sign

Remember any details you share online can be used in phishing attacks. Be especially careful in sharing any information regarding your date of birth, geo-tagged photos (as they contain address data) and any information regarding which telecommunication and financial services organisations you use.

2. Adjust your privacy settings

You might be surrounded by it, but you’re not at the whim of technology. You have a lot more control over who sees the information you share online than you might think, and all it takes is a few little adjustments to your privacy settings. This is true for anything you do over the internet, from apps and browsing, to social media. It might feel like a chore, but checking through a website’s privacy statement will tell you how they collect and use your information – if you don’t like what you read, don’t sign up!

Companies are constantly updating their policies, so it’s a good idea to check in every now and again to make sure your information isn’t being handed out without your knowledge.

 

3. Keep your name out of the spotlight

You’d never give out your address to a stranger on the street, so why should you do the same online? Exposing significant details over the internet can make you vulnerable to fraud. This can be as simple as a phone number on a job listing website, or broadcasting your birth date and year on your social media profile. These seemingly harmless actions can actually put you at risk, so try leaving them out of the equation completely.

If you’re concerned about what personal data might be out there, a quick internet search could turn up some interesting results. But not everyone has the time or expertise to check all the dark corners of the online world. This is where Secure Sentinel by Veda Advantage enters the frame. Day and night, they constantly monitor the internet for your details, making sure they aren’t being traded for money and alerting you if they are.

 

Expecting a tax refund? Make sure the money ends up in your bank account, not a scammer’s! Keep an eye out for dodgy scams like this one. Remember, the ATO will not email, call or SMS you asking for credit card or bank details to issue a refund. Share with friends and family to keep them safe.

Expecting a tax refund? Make sure the money ends up in your bank account, not a scammer’s!
Keep an eye out for dodgy scams like this one.
Remember, the ATO will not email, call or SMS you asking for credit card or bank details to issue a refund. Share with friends and family to keep them safe.

 

1 Australians lose over $80 million to scams in 2014. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Media release. May 2015.