Protect yourself online

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With increasing amounts of our day to day interactions happening online, and with 81%* of Irish adults saying that they shop online, from the comfort of their own home, at least once a week, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the personal data we share on the internet is secure.

But do you know enough about Data Protection to feel that your personal information is safe? Well with Data Protection Awareness Day on January 28th, there’s no better time to find out more:

What is data protection?

Most of us give information about ourselves to groups such as Government bodies, banks, insurance companies, medical professionals and utility providers in order to use their services.

Under data protection laws, you have rights regarding the use of these personal details, including the right to view, update, and remove the details they hold. Meanwhile, data controllers within these companies or organisations, also have certain responsibilities in how they handle your information: they have a duty to keep your details private and safe, to use your information solely for approved purposes, and to keep it only for as long as necessary.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into EU law from May 25th 2018, and will give you greater control over your personal data, by setting out more clearly defined rights for individuals whose personal data is collected.

How can you keep yourself safe online?

  1. Don't overshare on social media
    A very simple way to protect your personal data is to make sure you don’t give out your birth date, address, mother’s maiden name, pet’s name or any other identifying information on social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
  2. Guard your personal information
    Never respond to requests for personal or account information online (or over the phone). Watch out for convincing imitations of banks, charities and government agencies which may contact you: If in doubt, always use official channels to verify requests for information, such as your financial institution’s official website, or the telephone number listed on statements.
  3. Check URLs, and don’t click on email links or attachments you do not recognise.
    Malware could get onto your device if you open an attachment or click a link; or you may be taken to ‘phishing’ sites, which can harvest usernames and passwords. Pay attention to suspect emails as hackers are getting increasingly sophisticated.
  4. Stay up to date
    Software updates on your phone and computer might sometimes appear at inconvenient times. But it’s important to use the latest version of programmes, particularly your anti-virus software, and web browser. So make sure you install security patches and software updates, as soon as they’re ready.
  5. Install anti-virus software, or a web application firewall
    It is important to have security on your devices, and to keep them updated (so they can tackle the latest developing threats). Installing some onto your computer is an easy first step in ensuring you and your data can stay safe online.
  6. Make it Difficult
    This may sound obvious, but make sure you use unique and hard to guess passwords. There’s no point making an effort to secure information on one site, if you use exactly the same password for everything. So keep things original, and don’t leave your password information where others could access it. Remember not to access secure websites using public Wi-Fi!
  7. Turn on two-step verification wherever possible
    Many web based services, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Tumblr etc. offer two-step verification. This means that as well as a password, you need to prove you have access to a second trusted device, normally a phone, to log on. How you prove that varies: sometimes a text is sent, sometimes you use a special app. This prevents a third-party from logging in to your account, even if they have your password. It’s an added layer of security, which makes it very difficult indeed to hack.
  8. Keep an eye on your finances
    Even if you’re taking measures to stay secure, sometimes things can go wrong. Monitor your bank and credit card accounts, and sign up for alerts to be sent to your mobile phone or e-mail, so you can spot any unauthorised activity. Your bank will quickly be able to deal with the issue.

Now that you’re on your way to protecting yourself online, make sure you’re covered in the real world too, with Aviva home insurance, to learn more click here.

*Source: Silicon Republic, Online shopping among Irish adults still an exploding scene, June 2017

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