How To Stay Safe Online In 3 Simple Steps

With today being Data Privacy Day, the identity and data protection specialist at digital security firm Gemalto explains how you can avoid the ever-increasing dangers of the Internet

Today is Data Privacy Day, an international effort centred on respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust. The day is dedicated to helping everyone to better understand how to protect personal information and navigate the online world.

Looking back at 2014, we saw an alarming number of data breaches, which showed no signs of slowing down throughout the year. High profile breaches included brands such as Domino’s Pizza, Dropbox, eBay and the Central European Bank. The Breach Level Index showed that in the first half of 2014, there were 559 breaches worldwide with 175 million customer records stolen.

The pain

Despite today’s fire-and-brimstone headlines about data breaches, the problem with cyber security is that nobody is feeling the pain of the problem. Consumers know their credit cards will be replaced and they will not be responsible for financial losses. Breached companies know their stock prices will bounce right back and consumers will continue shopping at their stores. And government regulations in this country speak for themselves – they simply are not a prescription for security.

internet privacyThe fact is, whether or not you’re feeling the pain of the problem, you will be better off staying safe online and avoiding security risks where possible. With that in mind, TechWeek has teamed up with Jason Hart, VP cloud services, identity and data protection at Gemalto, to help you keep your data and yourself safe online.

Hart is a former ethical hacker with 20 years’ experience in the Information Security industry, and devotes his time to reducing and researching the risk of password theft and password hacking. Here are his top tips on how to avoid the dangers of the Internet:

1. Be smart about your passwords: This means you should refrain from using the same password across multiple accounts. By doing this you prevent cross pollination – where cyber criminals use the same password details to facilitate data breaches across multiple organisations. Of course with so many online accounts and different passwords to remember, it’s challenging to remember a different one for each, so even better would be to replace these with One-Time Password (OTP) authentication. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as a strong password – static passwords all carry the risk of being hacked. OTP technology is the strongest protection for users. It can generate highly secure one-time passwords to authenticate users, often they will just have to remember a PIN number in order to retrieve a new password.

2. Free Wi-Fi: You know the saying, there’s no such thing as a free lunch? I like to think it’s the same with Wi-Fi. I recently demonstrated in a 5 News investigation how easy it is to hack into a coffee shop’s free Wi-Fi and gain access to the devices connected to it and view their email addresses, bank account details and other locations they connect to the internet to – be that home or work. All this, without their knowledge. Therefore, people must be more cautious about connecting to public Wi-Fi and the security risks of doing so.

3. Mobile security: Mobile devices are becoming a popular target for hackers. This is hardly a surprise given so many of us have between 1 and 3 of them, and they are increasingly used to store sensitive work files and personal information. The challenge with these devices is that because they connect to the cloud, data ends up being stored in multiple places (the cloud, the mobile, etc.) and this gives the hackers multiple attack points to use. Therefore, unless security controls are in place and companies understand the location of where the data is being stored, there is a greater risk that these devices or their data could be breached.

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