Staying safe online

Staying safe online

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19 Jun 13
Written by Alexandra Coroian
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Over 70% of Australia's population is estimated to be using the internet, says a report released by the World Bank in 2012. With such a high rate of online adoption, there are over 11 million Facebook accounts, 2.2 million Google Plus users reported, while the number of mobile handsets with an Internet connection has reached 17.4 million in 2012. Nonetheless, there are over 4 million iPhones in the country.

It is no wonder than that the recent talks about US National Security Agency engaging in the surveillance of private data belonging to non-US citizens, have troubled many Aussies.

With so much online information being held in the hands of a few American companies, this is not only last week's news. But the question imposed on a reality that many online businesses and users have to face every day.

Is private data on Internet safe? What can online companies do to protect their private information? Here's what we've found out:


Use security practices

Many companies use these “good sense” practices to prevent corruption of online important data. If you haven't heard about them yet, read through this “must have” security list:

Encrypted emails

Have you ever written something important on a postcard? Most definitely no, especially from knowing that it passes through so many hands and can be read by so many from expedition until destination. “Emails sent across the Web are like postcards”, says Time author Raphael Satter. Encrypt your emails to make sure no one reads your one on one talks, but first, make sure that the other party is also using the same encryption program.

FACT! : An encryption program called PGP (“Pretty Good Privacy”) was asked to be blocked at export in the mid-1990s by the U.S. Government, who argued that it was so powerful it should be classed as a weapon.

Mobile privacy

Is a big issue, especially if you are using smartphones for work. These are more susceptible to cyber attacks through SMS, MMS and malware apps, it's shown in a text published by Australia Post. Install anti-virus softwares on your Android phones or simply ditch your mobile phones all together, advices security researcher Jacob Appelbaum.

Keeping cards safe

Here is another hot topic of the moment, especially for those making a living out of online purchases : trying to keep your card data safe. Never send any credit card details through email or SMS and try to limit the usage of money to online currencies (Bitcoin or Litecoin have yet to prove if they can efficiently substitute offline money).


Use storage and backing-up

Which can be done on your computer but also in the cloud. Although there have been many discussions about the security of keeping your data in the cloud, choosing a good cloud vendor will ensure the safe-keeping of your precious information, believes Ideal Ware author, Jay Leslie. A good solution will cover all these three main aspects of cloud data storage : confidentiality, integrity and accessibility.


Problem not solved?

Park them elsewhere

The truth is that US companies are governed by US law, and no disclaimer issued by Silicon Valley companies will ever change that. If you don't like the sounds of anything having to do with the Patriot Act, then simply park you online data elsewhere, states Raphael Satter. Australian and European companies tend to have stronger privacy protection policies ( they also tend to be more expensive as well). “When hunting for a safe place to stash your data, look for smaller countries with robust human rights records”, advices Satter in his Tech Time article.


Have your say!

What do you think is the most efficient way of keeping your online data safe?

Photo credit: Hightech Edge , Kings of War



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