Is my private information publicly available?

As we celebrate Privacy Awareness Week (1-7 May), it’s important to recognise that our personal information is more vulnerable than ever before. Now is the perfect time to learn about the steps you can take to keep your private information safe. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common types of private information that cyber criminals target and provide practical strategies for protecting yourself.

Login details

Login details can be lost if:

  • You share them in insecure ways.
  • You store them somewhere that is breached.
  • The platform for the login details is breached and the password database accessed.
  • Someone you’ve shared your login details with passes them on to the wrong person.

If your login details for a platform are shared online, malicious actors can get access to your account on that platform. If you reuse email address and password combinations, this can provide a lot of people with access to other platforms on which you use the same login details.

What to do about it

If you use a quality password manager with browser and app integration, you can easily create and record a new password for every login. This helps to avoid the problems caused by reusing passwords and makes your passwords harder to guess or brute-force.

To find out whether your login details have already been shared online, look up your email address using a credential exposure service like Enzoic. Alternatively, use a free service like Have I Been Pwned. Credential exposure services look for email addresses and passwords that have been shared to internet sites that aren’t crawled by search engine bots.

Credit card details

Credit card details can be lost in:

  • Phishing scams.
  • Ecommerce scams.
  • Jobseeker and real estate scams.
  • Making purchases online over public wifi.
  • Data breaches at a retailer or payment gateway service.

If your credit card details are compromised, they can be used for fraudulent transactions on your card.

What to do about it

Use an app that consolidates financial data and transaction details so you can track everything in one spot. These are often used to aid budgeting. However, putting common credit card spending into categories can help you flag unusual transactions. This makes it easier to spot fraudulent purchases.

Personal information

Personal information like your full name, date of birth, address, parents’ names, and place of birth can be accidentally shared on social media, through phishing scams, and in data breaches.

If someone has your personal information, they can steal your identity and apply for credit or commit tax fraud.

What to do about it

The best way to protect yourself against identity theft is to set up a credit watch with a company like Equifax or Experian. Your credit report will give you information about credit enquiries on your file. You can opt to receive alerts when anything changes on your credit report, like a new credit enquiry or a new credit approval. This gives you an opportunity to respond swiftly to any credit theft attempts. Typically, the best response is to issue a temporary credit freeze and report the issue to the authorities.

Drivers licence number

Drivers licence numbers are increasingly used for online identity verification for services with strict ID requirements. Bank accounts and mobile phone SIM cards tend to require drivers licence or passport number verification. Often government department ID processes require these too.

Drivers licence numbers have recently been the target of multiple high profile data breaches at large companies. If someone has your drivers licence number, they can use it to start constructing a false identity. They could also open a bank account, mobile phone post-paid account, or credit card in your name.

What to do about it

A credit watch is the best protection against loss of your drivers licence number. You can also set up a news alert on a service like Google News to warn you about data breaches at companies with whom you’ve shared this data. If you find that your licence number has been shared online, your best option is to request a new licence from the appropriate government department.

Learn more about keeping your information secure.

In today’s digital age, it’s crucial to protect your private information. When you learn how to recognise and prevent cyber-attacks, you reduce your risks of experiencing a devastating cyber incident. PhishNet awareness training provides you with the knowledge and skills you need to keep your personal and financial information secure. Talk to us to find out more.