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Is my personal data safe?

I was watching the head of Sony Entertainment being interviewed over the reported hacking of PlayStation accounts, and by his own admission they do not know how much data was taken. He said that they could have taken the first names of every account or the last 4 digits of everyone’s credit card, or all their customers’ details – they just don’t know.  All they know is the hacker or hackers were not just good, but very good.

Any security breach on this level would make you think twice.

Large corporations spend vast amounts of money and employ highly skilled professionals to protect their online services. It is very rare that banks or financial organisations are hacked (well that they are prepared to tell us about).

Hackers and online fraudsters will normally use far easier methods to obtain your details – Virus infection, Spam, Phishing, or even bribing employee’s inside an organisation to pass on details. Even with some very high profile fraud cases, your credit card data is not used straight away. Fraudsters may wait months, even years before using credit card details.

But there are simple steps you can take to prevent your online identity and data.

  1. Make sure you have an up-to-date Internet Security product installed on your PC’s and laptops.
  2. Regularly change your passwords to access social media networks, webmail, gaming and subscription based websites – anywhere your personnel details and credit card information is stored.
  3. Be very careful about accessing these sites on public access computers.
  4. Make sure the credit cards you use online have fraud protection.
  5. Check your credit card statement regularly.
  6. If in doubt phone your bank or credit card provider as they will be more than willing to help you – even sending out a new card just in case.

As for emails – remember:

  1. Banks will never email you directly and request that you “confirm” or “update” your password by following a web link.
  2. If the email in unsolicited – don’t open it.
  3. When using an online bank – open your web browser and type the web address yourself.

Simple really, but the simplest things make the biggest difference in preventing online fraud.

Written by: Julian Flux – connect with Julian on LinkedIn

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