Three Tips for Keeping Your Personal Information Safe

Jan 29, 2013 8:00am

The following is a guest blog from  Jerry Irvine, CIO of Prescient Solutions

Today there are many risks involved in communicating, whether it is on your PC, laptop or smartphone.   Users need to be wary of the multiple hidden risks of computing, including Spam, SMiShing and fraudulent apps, in order to protect personal information and privacy. Consumers today cannot avoid all risks, but there are a number of practical steps they can take to minimize the threats of viruses, credit card fraud and identity theft.

Review those pesky privacy policies
Most companies gather information from us as soon as we start viewing their websites.  This information can be used to help us shop or simply to help with the usage of their website.  However, in many situations, companies gather more information than they need to perform their basic functions.  This information may be used to develop new products or services, or may even be sold to other companies for their use.  Unfortunately, some of this information is gathered, used and even sold without the users’ knowledge or permission. 

However, all organizations are now required by either state laws or federal guidelines to have easily accessible privacy statements or policies that provide specific information on what data is being collected, how it is collected, how it is going to be used and if they will be sharing information with any other organizations.  Prior to providing any personal information or using websites that gather data from your devices, it is important to find, review and agree to the  privacy policy of the website, even if they seem tedious. 

Check out as a guest
Rather than entering personal information on publicly accessible websites, whenever possible, access websites anonymously.  Most sites allow for guest access and provide secondary methods for payment such as PayPal, Google Wallet, and other digital wallet solutions.  These methods allow the individual to limit the number of sites and vendors that have access to their personal data and financial information.

Save shopping for your PC
Mobile malware has grown by as much as 3,000 percent in the last year. However,  security solutions for mobile devices have not been developed as rapidly as the technology’s popularity.  As a result, there are few antivirus or malware protection tools for mobile devices.

As a result, using a smartphone or tablet to transmit or store personal information, financial data and credit card numbers is a major risk.  Even mobile devices that claim to encrypt data may be easily breached by malicious applications that capture and transmit passwords or specific data.  Additionally, many websites may be infected with malicious scripts which are not detected with antimalware applications, causing data sent to them, even from encrypted devices, to be captured. In order to reduce the risk of identity theft or fraud, consumers should not store personal information on mobile devices or use mobile devices to shop, perform banking transactions or share personal information.