Protecting Private Information

It is very important that you do not give people you do not know private information about yourself. By providing just your date of birth, or your address, people can find out a lot of information about you.

When you buy things online you must make sure of the following:

  • Are you using a secure web site? The web address (URL) should start with https:// rather than simply http:// and there may be a small padlock icon on the screen. The extra “s” means the website you are buying from is using the Secure Socket Layer protocol to ensure your privacy.
  • Do you know the website? Are there customer comments about it? How long has it been there? Many hackers set up false websites so they can access your private details – these often claim that they will give you huge discounts and special offers.

Have you checked your privacy settings in your Internet browser software?

Do you check that the websites you access are not storing information about you and selling it to other people?

Make sure you clear your history of the web sites you visit, your browser cache and cookies stored on your computer, which contain private information about what websites you have visited and any transactions/personal information you used to access the website, like a username and password or your address details.

Do you have anti-spyware software installed on your computer? Spyware is designed to secretly spy on your activity accessing websites and record your personal information – make sure you check and update your anti-spyware software regularly.

When using e-mail you should always encrypt sensitive data and only send and reply to e-mails from people you know.
Make sure you set up filters to trap unwanted spam emails from people trying to sell you things – most are trying to access your private information.

Never reply to people offering you lottery winnings or a tax refund – they are simply spammers trying to get private information from you. You should always report these to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) who can take action to restrict this type of malicious e-mail.

Next: Natural Threats