Tony Byrne’s View 9 October 2017

Oct 9, 2017 | Wealth & Tax Blog

We are living in an age dominated by the Internet and portable devices. Wherever you go you find most people totally focused on their mobile phones or tablets seemingly oblivious to the world around them. Pedestrians are even crossing roads while reading their phones and getting knocked over by cars, especially silent electric cars!

With the growth in portable devices we have to be able to remember an ever increasing amount of security details such as user names and passwords. The problem is we are generally not very good at keeping our security details secure. My wife watched a TV programme and was shocked to see how easy it is to use free public wifi to obtain private security details from total strangers effortlessly. So when you next decide to use free public wifi and your device warns you that it is not a secure network, take heed. That’s because it is true! My wife always uses 3G or 4G when she is out and about and now I do too.

There have been a number of high profile cyber security attacks in recent years affecting large companies such as eBay and Yahoo, resulting in thousands of people’s security details being stolen and identity theft occurring.

So what can you do apart from not using public wifi?

For starters why not download an app such as 1Password or LastPass to store all of those passwords, user names, PIN numbers etc? There are many apps to choose from and you will have to pay a small subscription but for peace of mind they are invaluable. Check out review sites to find out the password app that is most suitable for you and do read the user reviews and study the user ratings for the apps. Many of these apps have very useful tools as well so they can be great time savers. These apps will even create difficult passwords for you that you couldn’t possibly remember but your app will never forget! The beauty is that you only then have to remember one password – the one to access your app.

I was once a victim of identity theft so I take security very seriously now. I have registered with CIFAS https://www.cifas.org.uk/ for additional security. It is the UK’s largest cross-sector fraud sharing databases. It is a not-for-profit organisation which works to reduce and prevent fraud and financial crime in the UK.

If you are concerned your ID has been stolen then check out this site https://haveibeenpwned.com/. It allows you to search across multiple data breaches to see if your email address has been compromised.

Avoid obvious mistakes such as putting your personal landline or mobile number on the Internet and your home address. The classic mistake many people make is to reveal so much information about themselves on social media such as their date of birth, their possessions and their whereabouts. The one that always surprises me is people posting images and stories about their holidays, weekends, days or nights whilst they are away from their homes. An obvious signal to the reader that these people have left their house empty and susceptible to a burglary.

None of us will forget the occasion when Kim Kardashian publicised on social media the very expensive jewellery she had with her when staying in a hotel and lo and behold it was subsequently stolen from her hotel room!

So follow the tips in this article and look forward to enjoying a more secure and happy digital life.