The dangers to watch out for with online dating, banking, shopping, chatting, befriending and even posting your employment details, are well documented.
Yet people still fall for a wide range of scams, impersonations and illusions.
People are tricked into giving access to their money to strangers, signing in to porn, stalkers or house burglars.
People still have their online pockets picked while shopping.
However, there are some different dangers emerging from the way the internet is evolving that need special attention.
Following our MBF Blog about cookies (That’s the Way the Cookies Crumble in Internet Debate) as recently as 20 Feb 12, fresh details are emerging of just what is to happen in May. Just what is the EU going to do to your website (and everybody else’s)?
From May, if you use any sort of (Google) analytics on your website to track where visitors go, what they put in their baskets and extract details like their names, web addresses and other data, you will have to ask permission of them before you can do this.
Privacy campaigners are delighted, but those who rely on traffic through their sites are looking at up to a 90% reduction in flow. A relatively small number of users will grant consent to have their data logged. It’s too valuable, for a start, as increasingly web users realise the value of their own data.
They seem to be the ones to watch at present for new developments that may or may not suit you.
Following on from their merging all their privacy policies there is a school of thought that believes they may well soon be in breach of the new EU regulations above.
If so, they may well be happy to fight the new regs through the courts in what would be a lengthly and costly exercise with no certain outcome.
In the meantime they seem to have accelerated the speed of acquiring user data and scope of the material they are holding. It is possible to see that mobile calls, your GPS favourite and frequent locations, browsing habits, social media links and even your emails are all going one way. Into their data banks.
Of course, almost every other provider of any kind of digital service is at it too, so that means they all have to be watched. Though what individuals can do about it, is a best a little vague.
Everybody, every business, every financial institution and shop and even (especially) the Government has to keep at least a step ahead of fraudsters, criminals and terrorists. When some new device (like chip and pin) comes in, it may successfully defeat criminals for a time, so they move elsewhere using another scam.
They recycle them periodically too, on the basis that ‘there’s one born every minute’ and each generation of web users will not know the lessons the last generation had to learn. It’s not just children at risk, it’s all ages.
Ideally pundits reckon you should have a different password for every site you access. How many people can remember more than a few? People are advised not to write passwords and codes down. But again, how many people can remember more than a few?
Perhaps a different password for clusters of similar sites? Banking and financial, one very secure; networking another, and shopping yet a third. That is about the limit for the majority of people with normal, busy lives to lead.
Everybody should know that birthdays and family names are out. Any fool could guess from knowing just a little about you. A basic decoding program could crack you in seconds. The mix of upper case/lower case, numbers and letters, often nonsensical ‘words’ is the key to successful pass-wording. Add in _ and a few other squiggles available on the keyboard, and you improve the secret.
They reckon if you use just seven upper/lower characters and numbers there are 3.5 trillion possible combinations, whereas five numbers only would offer just 100,000 combinations. Not safe, not safe at all.