How to protect my information on Internet?

let's be less talkative

Last week we discussed how we expose ourselves to pirates because of our weak passwords. Let’s look today to other gifts we make to pirates… and how to avoid it.

Be it in our emails or on the social networks (where Facebook holds the first place) we are deep-rooted talkative. Too much things we put in our emails, our profile ant our wall should be kept hidden. It isn’t because we perceive this information has no impact on us that we should make it public.

There are two reasons for that:

  • we don’t consider it as intrinsically sensitive
  • we do not take into account the advantage the other (the ‘bad ones’) could find, even if it is to trip us up.

What we should keep four ourselves

The details of our activities and movements. What happened yesterday isn’t a big problem but one can easily know our habits. We should avoid communicating intimate facts.

Let’s only speak about our projects in a generic form. Why giving precise indication on our next leaves and travels? If we already gave our address, we should be aware that we give a clear opportunity for burglars a few hours after our departure.

It doesn’t take a handy burglar more than half an hour to go away with all what has value and our neighbours won’t notice anything.

Hence…

  • our advice on our boss, colleagues or neighbours
  • our political, philosophical and religious opinions
  • our health status our salary and the status of our bank account …

… should remain hidden.

The law protect these as personally identifiable information. Even if the laws vary from one country to another, and cultural traditions in French and English speaking countries, for all you best readers, one thing is clear: playing with this information can have disastrous consequences.

Our name, surname, address and fix phone number are public: they are published in the telephone directories (progressively disappearing).

But there are other more disturbing things when associated with what is already public:

  • a picture: it doesn’t need to be ‘private’ (I let you put whatever you want under this word) to put us in a weak position.

Facebook acquired two or three years ago an Australian firm specialized in face recognition. As from this time we can accept Facebook looks in its databases (and in the Internet) all our pictures. If our wall displays one of them when we’re with rather disreputable characters, in a questionnable situation or where we shouldn’t have been, this will create the buzz within our friends.

  • a birth date: after a certain age, we tend to be discrete about this. We also can lie on our age to be accepted within a group. A date also allows to better discriminate between the potential victims.
  • An identity card number, a social security number, a national identification number are much more problematic. This number is of no use in itself (everyone can create one as soon as he knows its structure). But associated with a name, a picture or a license place this is another story!

What are the bad guys interested in?

Exactly what we already saw!

They use it to spread gossips about us (and at work it is quite effective).

They also can steal our identity and forbid us any social, financial or juridical live. We lose our most fundamental rights.

A bank account linked with our identity, and pirates go away with all our money.

With our license plate, they can follow us and mug us at a the best appropriate place for them.

If it makes them laugh, we cry.

What can we do?

Remember the ‘Need to know’ principle. Let the others only read and listen what they need to know when they should act on it at our benefit.

Publicly announce (on our Facebook wall or in emails) facts that give the others a spanner to throw in our works is sort of – say – adventurous behaviour.

 

Do you know that, besides being too talkative on the Internet we also throw in our paper baskets and trash cans what to satisfy less ‘connected’ pirates? We’ll go on this next week.

Ask me your questions. Let me know your concerns. This kind of article can’t address all issues.

See you soon, more secure with your information

Jean-Luc

© Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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