Protecting our online identity is more important than ever
The news of some recent high-profile instances of online privacy laws being breached, together with an ever growing amount of the population living their personal and professional lives online, can only reinforce the idea that the need to be aware of how to protect our online identity is more important than ever.
Statistics from Experian CreditExpert have revealed that between May 2012 and Jan 1st 2013, the total number of customers alerted to instances of their information being exposed or misused online stood at 602,553.
Further to this, the average Briton now has 26 different online accounts - with 25-34-year olds being the most prolific, with no fewer than 40.
Despite this, Britons use an average of just five different passwords to keep their details safe, with a quarter (24 per cent) using a single password for the majority of profiles, and one in 25 (four per cent) sticking with the same login details for all their accounts.
In addition, many people are potentially putting themselves further at risk by no longer using many of their accounts, resulting in passwords not being changed regularly In fact, two thirds of adults (66 per cent) admit to having defunct profiles that hold valuable personal and financial information, including social network profiles (26 per cent), email addresses (18 per cent) and shopping accounts (21 per cent).
Even more shocking is that results showed that three fifths of us never log out of websites and one in four people (26 per cent) never check for a website’s security padlock, even when making purchases and sharing financial information.
Peter Turner, Managing Director at Experian Consumer Services in the UK and Ireland, commented: “It’s a wonderful life online, and it is now second nature to many of us, but that also means that we can be complacent. Although fourteen per cent of Britons admit to being concerned about the risk of online ID theft, many more – 43 per cent – have no such worries.
When managing multiple online accounts, users need to protect themselves with a service like CreditExpert’s Web Monitoring, which alerts members by text or email at the first signs that their details have been compromised.”
Experian CreditExpert’s top tips to staying safe online:
• Use a strong password
Make sure you don’t use the same password for all your important accounts. Avoid things like dictionary words, maiden names or favourite pets, as these can be easily cracked. And although there’s no need to have a different address for every single different online account, try to have separate passwords for your main email address, online bank account and different social media accounts, which you don’t use for anything else. That way, if one is compromised, the others will remain safe.
• If in doubt, don’t click.
Online is now second nature to many people. But don’t let that give you a false sense of security. If a website looks dubious, an online offer too good to be true, or an email with its subject line and content conflicting with what your bank would normally send you, don’t click. Check online to see if other people have encountered what might be a scam or virus, and contact your friend or bank to see if they the email is legitimate.
• Know where your details go
If personal information falls into the wrong hands, within minutes, the data can be used to access your accounts, and can be bought and sold in underground forums around the world. Protect yourself with a free 30-day trial of CreditExpert’s Web Monitoring, which alerts members by text or email at the first signs that their details have been compromised.