If you worry about your privacy on the internet, you’re not alone. A new global survey by the Centre for International Governance Innovation found that 57 percent of respondents are more concerned about their online safety than they were a year ago. Considering how many corporations and government agencies that have been affected by data breaches in the past year, these heightened concerns make perfect sense.
To touch on some of these incidents, the survey included sections on a lot of hot button issues such as “hacktivism,” which is the act of hacking to promote certain political agendas, and privacy versus national security, which has recently picked up steam with a public debate between Apple and the FBI.
While these topics seem to position online security at odds with the government, 85 percent of survey participants said they believe that governments and organizations worldwide should work closely together against cyberthreats. Only 30 percent believe their government is sufficiently handling these issues.
In the meantime, consumers seem to be doing all they can to ensure their safety. The survey found that these concerns have impacted online behavior, with 83 percent reporting that they’ve altered their habits on the web to limit the amount of personal information available about them. This includes 55 percent of respondents who said they avoid certain suspicious emails and 39 percent who have removed biographical details about themselves from the internet.
There are many other kinds of efforts that consumers can make to improve their safety online. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Plenty of scams still occur via email, especially phishing and malware. That’s why you first need to know how to spot a suspicious email and avoid downloading links or responding with any personal information.
To save yourself time, you can use a email service with a spam filter to keep certain messages out of your inbox. These filters can pick up on certain keywords or link types to recognize when an email is legitimate and when it’s spam.
To take your protection a step further, be sure to use a strong password for your email account using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols, and update it frequently. Anything that can be easily guessed will put you at risk for a hack.
Using social sites like Facebook and Twitter is great for sharing information with friends, but they can put you at risk if you’re not careful. Providing too many personal details can put important information in the hands of fraudsters, so start by limiting how much you post and what you say.
While social media sites usually ask you for identifying details, like your birth date, you can alter your settings so this information is only visible to you. Like your email account, follow the same practice of frequently updating your passwords.
It’s unbelievably convenient to shop online, but carelessness can increase your vulnerability toidentity theft. When virtually swiping that plastic, make sure you’re using a secure, encrypted website. You’ll typically notice that these sites’ URLs begin with “https.”
Beware of certain online deals as well. If it feels too good to be true, it’s wise to listen to your skeptical instincts.
Beyond the Web
When it comes to online security, there is no such thing as too much protection. To take yours a step further, you should invest in a service like Identity Guard, which can monitor certain data points, like your credit file and Social Security Number, notify you of certain activity that may indicate fraud, and provide you with safer browsing tools like anti-keylogger software.