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How to protect your personal information online

In 2019, 58% of people in the UK were thought to be a victim of a data breach, according to DynaRisk. With more of our lives taking place online, our personal data – information such as our names, dates of birth, addresses, banking information, and so forth – is increasingly at risk. Here’s how you can keep yours safe.

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Claim compensation if you are hit by a data breach

Under the Data Protection Act 2018, any organisation collecting and storing personal data must keep it secure from unauthorised or unlawful processing, damage, loss, or destruction. Under GDPR regulation, companies must inform their customers of a breach, although you can ask if you have been affected via their official contact. If your data is subject to a breach, you can claim for data protection breach compensation, either from the company itself, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), or via the courts.

Be safe on social

According to Cifas’ 2019 Fraudscape report, 65% of the UK’s 189,000 fraud victims had a social media presence featuring personal information that was likely used by perpetrators. As a result, it’s crucial you treat social media platforms as the inherently public spaces they are. Don’t post personal information via updates or on your profiles, and never share sensitive information such as logins or personal data, even to friends and family.

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Don’t use public WIFI networks

By their nature, public Wi-Fi networks use login info that practically anyone can get hold of. The result is that they are very open to hacking, putting your data at risk while you are connected to them. Instead, use your mobile data (the UK has some of the cheapest rates around) or download things like playlists and eBooks on your home Wi-Fi network before you head on the go.

Use two-factor authentication

Many companies now offer two-factor authentication to users, and it should always be used. This security technique asks users to provide two means of authenticating who they are before they are logged in. This typically takes the form of a regular user-password combination and a code texted to a phone number assigned to the profile that is then inputted online. It adds an extra step of verification and means a hacker would need both your login information and your mobile device to be successful.

Practice proper mobile phone security

According to ONS data, Mobile phone thefts peaked at around 820,000 in 2011-12, but have since dropped to 325,000 in 2019-20. That’s great news, but it’s still a substantial number, and if an attacker really wants to get your data, you must secure your phone as much as you can, just in case.

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First, make sure it’s updated so it has the best protection from hackers. Use a strong password or fingerprint locking if your phone offers it, and turn off your Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth when you aren’t using them, so these avenues of attack are made unavailable.

Written by Eric

37-year-old who enjoys ferret racing, binge-watching boxed sets and praying. He is exciting and entertaining, but can also be very boring and a bit grumpy.

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