Last week was National Get Safe Online Week, so I suppose it was somewhat ironic that one of the week’s big news stories related to a cyber-attack on TalkTalk, which saw many individuals left vulnerable to fraud.
Unfortunately for TalkTalk customers, the risk that fraudsters may now be in possession of their personal information is not the whole story; it also brings with it the added risk that other fraudsters may seize the opportunity to contact individuals, claiming to be from TalkTalk with instructions on how to ‘safeguard individuals from fraud’, claiming to be from a third-party security company, or claiming to be software companies offering advice or a fix!
Frustratingly, we have no control over how companies manage our personal data, but we can control how we manage it ourselves. While I’m not a client of TalkTalk, it certainly made me stop and think about just how much personal information we are prepared to share via the internet, particularly on social media platforms.
Take Facebook for example: we proudly update our status to share beach photos of ourselves and our family, advertising that we are away on holiday and our homes are therefore empty. We also share our dates of birth, children’s and pets’ names, previous schools and home towns. Whilst all of this information is posted innocently and intended for our Facebook friends and contacts, it can be a fraudster’s dream.
According to the National Crime Agency, cyber-crime is one of the most significant criminal threats to the UK. So, what can we do to help protect ourselves? A good place to start would certainly be to ensure that your devices are protected with secure passwords and up to date anti-virus.
Get Safe Online suggests that there are a number of sensible and simple measures that we should follow in order to protect ourselves. Their six top tips are as follows: –
As a business, we have worked hard to ensure that our IT systems are as secure as possible and have trained our staff to look out for potential scams but, as the TalkTalk debacle has highlighted, nothing is invincible and there’s no such thing as ‘no risk’. However, with our continued vigilance of our systems and your individual vigilance with your personal data, we can certainly all help to ensure that we maintain a ‘low risk’ profile.