These devices generate a continuous stream of data about our personal lives via apps and the websites we use. And you might be surprised to know just how much of this data that is gathered. It can range from your salary and where you live, to your TV viewing and online shopping habits, how long you sleep, and even where you go if carrying a smartphone or wearable.
This information, which also includes contacts, photos and videos, is being collected by advertisers, tech companies and others. It contains enormous amounts of personal data about individuals, friends and family.
Hackers, fraudsters and scammers want this data because it helps them carry out fraud such as identity theft. Last August, Cifas, the UKs leading fraud prevention service, released new figures showing that identity fraud continued to rise at record levels in the first six months of 2017. A record 89,000 identity frauds were recorded, up 5% from the previous year. 83% of identity frauds were perpetrated online.
In short, personal data can be used in unexpected and malicious ways. And our use of connected devices is only going to grow as we enter a new age of computing and billions of smart connected devices.
Protecting your privacy
This is why it is so important to understand the value of your personal information and how to manage and protect it. With consumer protection uppermost, BullGuard makes the following recommendations to safeguard personal data and ensure privacy remains intact:
- When using online services or social media, check the privacy and security settings and adjust them according to your comfort levels in terms of the level of information you want to share.
- Make use of two factor authentication, biometric identifiers and other strong authentication tools when using your mobile devices. If your device is lost or stolen, this will protect important online accounts like email and banking apps.
- Create strong passwords that include at least 10 to 12 characters and consist of a random mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and even spaces. These passwords will defeat brute force cracking techniques used by hackers to break passwords.