When you put yourself online in any way, you’re instantly making yourself a potential victim of having your data stolen. We all take data protection seriously and do what we can but unfortunately, there’s always incredibly cruel people out there willing and able to hack and steal your data. If you’ve seen any number of episodes of Mr Robot, you’ll know that these people are incredibly smart. Also, Rami Malek.
Purchasing things online, signing up to social media, creating a Netflix account and even creating an innocent blog requires you to leave some sort of digital footprint. I mean, in the last year alone, how many places have you signed in to online, leaving passwords, email addresses and bank details?
The internet is a wonderful place (I literally wouldn’t have a job right now without it!) and brings us so many opportunities, not to mention the convenience of shopping online, having next day delivery and being able to find out any information you could possibly want at the touch of a button.
But as with all aspects of life, there’s risks. And we need to take our security seriously.
Like most people, I tend to receive spam calls and emails, stating that I need to deposit money into a Bitcoin account otherwise videos of me will be leaked to my email list (this is actually a fairly new scam, which started last year – the scary thing about this one is that they send you an email from your own email address. Which is what encourages people to actually go ahead with what they’re asking, even though they’re providing an old password that you’d have used in the past)
But it’s not always unknown strangers on the internet who target individuals to steal your information and break your trust, massive co-operations have also got caught up in it, like some of the biggest data breaches of 2018, which you can read about here.
Thankfully, I wasn’t a victim of any of those but back in 2014 I did have my data stolen. Probably the worst data you could possibly have stolen. My bank details. And I still don’t know to this day how it happened or where I was slacking in the security department.
Did I get lazy?
Was I naive?
Was I not alert to what was going on?
When you have your data stolen, it definitely does bring up a lot of questions and doubts.
What happened to me was mind-boggling. I was in Southend with some friends one Sunday (a charming little seaside town in Essex), we were planning on spending the day at the theme park but went into town first to grab some bits. We went to the cash point, I put my card in (as you do) and it said I had exceeded my daily limit.
Confused because I knew I hadn’t, I took it out and put it back (doing the old “turn it off and on again” trick) hoping that would fix it but unfortunately it said the exact same thing. I knew something was up so I called the bank before I did anything else. I explained what was happening with my card and they looked at my statements and records from my account and told me…
“There’s been money withdrawn from your account… in Jakarta.”
…Jakarta. JAKARTA. They then proceeded to ask me if I was in fact, in Jakata. Like, as if I just forgot where I was for a minute. No. Definitely not. I just wanted to ride the Sky Drop and Rage rollercoaster in Southend.
They quickly put me through to the fraud department who immediately stopped my card, took all my details and filed a report. The next day – which was Monday – I popped down to my local bank branch, where the Woman in the bank showed me a print out of the withdrawals from my account. Someone had managed to get my bank details and sure enough, made withdrawals from a cash point in Jakata.
And within 6 minutes, they withdrew almost £1,000 from my account.
I mean, it was obviously a scam and fraud. The bank were great and within a month, the money was back in my account and I had a new card with a new number. But it’s not something I forget lightly and it’s something that definitely made me more cautious about my details. I felt so vulnerable and hopeless. And also a bit stupid. How could this have happened to me?
Now I know my readers aren’t idiots but it definitely doesn’t hurt to be reminded every now and again of the ways we can stay safe online and best protect our personal data and information. I definitely made sure I was more proactive in keeping my data safe after what happened to me and here’s some of the things I did:
1. Use different passwords for different platforms: Using the same password for multiple websites automatically puts you more at risk, so mix it up.
2. Don’t note your passwords down anywhere where they could get stolen: i.e if the notes on your phone are linked up to iCloud or something like that, don’t write them on your phone.
3. Delete any spam emails: Your spam folder can get full of crap very quickly. Make sure you go through and delete them all regularly. If you can avoid it, don’t even bother opening them and definitely don’t reply to any.
4. Be cautious of suspicious looking emails: Sometimes scammers pose as other companies to try and gain your trust. If you get a suspicious looking email from PayPal or somewhere like that, never, ever reply to it or click the links in the email. If it’s something you’re concerned about, ring them directly and explain and they’ll be able to look into your account and tell you whether the email was genuine or not.
5. Only buy online from places you trust: Most trusted websites will have the safety lock in the corner but the URL. If there’s any website that you’re not sure about, try and avoid purchasing from them.
6. When withdrawing money from cash points, cover the key pad fully when entering your pin: I mean, you’ve heard horror stories of people placing cameras on cash machines to record people’s pin numbers and things like that so it’s just not worth the risk. Also be wary of anyone standing near a cash point acting suspiciously and go to another one if that’s the case.
7. Never give your information out over the phone to anyone who has rung you: If you’ve called up your bank about a problem, you can safely say that you’re talking to your bank branch. But if you get a call from someone claiming to be your bank, don’t give them any information. Hang up and block the number.
8. Don’t put paper statements or letters from the bank straight in the bin: Always shred them and destroy the personal information on them before you throw them out.
I’d love to hear about any experienced you’ve had with this. How safety measures do you have that helps you remain safe online and keep your data protected? If you have any other tips to add, I’d love to hear them.
* This is a sponsored post