Is my personal and sensitive information safe?
By Mark Mathieson
The security of our personal information has never been under more threat and yet we continue to transmit our details, pictures and private information over the Internet.
We often do this using email or by sharing our photos in various ways such as SMS or Instagram. Our messages and photos traverse the Internet and normally find their way to their intended destination – or so we hope!
All the while, we often do so without thinking about who could be trying to access the information and how well secured it is. Even more worrying is that our sensitive information may pass through many servers located in different countries before it gets to its destination.
Do you trust the Internet?
Research tells us that over 90% of people do not trust the Internet. When you look at some of the facts, it is not surprising.
One example was the “Heartbleed” vulnerability, which went undetected for 2 years before it was discovered in April 2014. An estimated 60% of the Internet may have been affected including some of the best known companies such as Google, Netflix, NASA and Instagram.
Some of the biggest data loses in recent years include Sony Playstation (77 million people), Target (70 million) and Adobe (38 million).
The trend continues with Malware that attack iPhones breaking into the top 20 most virulent threats and a dangerous Android banking Trojan (Acecard) capable of attacking nearly 50 different online financial apps and services.
The main problem is that your information is valuable. Companies harvest it and store it away for future use. The mere fact that it is there, leaves you vulnerable.
What can you do to help?
There are some simple things that will reduce your risk, including:
- Ensure you have a strong password that includes capitals, numbers and ^!@.
- Never re-use a password on different websites
- Change your passwords regularly
- Encrypt your personal data
- Keep an encrypted copy somewhere safe – not on the Internet
- Don’t accept device or App permissions you don’t understand
- Don’t send personal information or private pictures by email
- Don’t open or act on emails that are too good to be true
- If in doubt stop, think and then stop.
I need to send some personal information – how best to do it?
I was recently asked by a doctor how to safely send a photo of a medical condition (without any specific patient information) to another doctor for a second opinion.
There are a few ways that this can be done. Traditionally, encrypting the email ensures that the contents are very difficult to access, however this is often cumbersome and doesn’t guarantee delivery. It also assumes that the recipient has the necessary decryption tools to open it. There are a variety of Apps that will make this easier.
More recently, services such as Note-Mail let you compose and safely store a message, documents and photos and then notify the recipients that there is something for them to read. This method ensures that the message is not transmitted and also has the benefit of being tracked and safely recalled or deleted before it is accessed, if sent in error. This method works for anyone who wants to keep a message, document or photo private, secret or confidential such as lawyers, doctors, conveyancers or just everyday people that don’t completely trust the Internet.
Give it a go with a 2 week FREE TRIAL.