Your data is valuable!

The Tip

Everything from personal information, personal photos, work correspondence, to your banking information and social media activity is valuable. If it’s valuable to you, it’s valuable to cybercriminals. In fact, some of it is valuable to cybercriminals without you even realizing it.

The Detail

Here are some things to consider in protecting your personal data;

  • Cleaning up old devices… do you know where all the old computers and phones and tablets you’ve had in the past are now? You may have traded them in and forgotten about them, but if you didn’t erase them first, they can come back to haunt you. Many criminal groups buy up old computer hardware and scan them looking for whatever they might find. Always do a factory reset on mobile devices and reformat hard drives on desktops before trading them in. A basic reformat will stop rookie cybercriminals only. For real protection, you should write over any existing data with zeros. Consult the manual for your disk utilities on how to do this low-level erase/reformat.
  • Social media… always be careful when adding new friends to your social network. Many social media networks are suffering from waves of fake friend requests. These are all attempts to find out more about you. Even if you are very selective in your connections, be cautious about over-sharing and privacy.
  • Surveys and games… you’ve seen them, the games and surveys and Facebook posts asking about your favourite foods and first pet and the street you grew up on, and so on. At first glance these seem harmless and fun, but it’s no coincidence that most of these questions are similar to the common security questions you might use for retrieving a lost password. Keep these details to yourself, or answer them with fake answers if you must play along.
  • Offline trouble… you don’t need to be online to be taken advantage of. Be careful of strangers ‘shoulder-surfing’ when you’re using a computer in a public space. Be careful of what you throw into the recycling box (consider a shredder). Be careful of who’s in ear-range if you’re giving credit information over the phone. Be careful when using your pin. These old-school privacy theft techniques can still be successful for cybercriminals.

Special Bonus Tip

Watch for the “Ask Us and Win” desk this week in UTS… you could have a coffee on us!