Protect yourself online

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

We’re a pretty tech-savvy bunch and Kiwis in general are pretty quick to jump on-board with new gadgets, but we might not be so good at protecting ourselves for the dangers lurking out there.

A press release on the Unisys Security Index that landed in my inbox this week says we’re not being careful enough when it comes to mobile devices.

In fact, 59 per cent of us never actually secure our mobiles, PDAs or smartphones with regularly changed passwords or PINs.

Even more worryingly, just 18 per cent of those surveyed said they always secured their device and changed their password regularly.

I’m probably as slack as the next person when it comes to not changing my password and I guess that simply comes down to laziness: I have so many passwords and PINs to remember already I don’t want to have to remember another one.

I do try to not reuse passwords so that if some nefarious bugger manages to crack one password he won’t have access to my whole life, but yes, I realise that’s not good enough.

I’ll give myself a stern talking to and stand in the corner for a while.

Hands up all those who actually read privacy polices and the like on websites? It’s 42 per cent according to the Unisys info¬† which I have to admit is higher than I expected. In my own case, I read them only if I’m downloading or signing up for something.

The most surprising statistic for me was the number of people who always shred personal paperwork: just 47 per cent.

In fact, 28 per cent said they never do this. Shredders are so cheap these days there’s really no excuse for not having one and, with so much publicity over the past few years about identity theft, I reckon it’s crazy to be just chucking your power bills and bank statements in the wheelie bin.

And finally, the message might be sinking in about online privacy, with just 19 per cent of people saying the never limit personal information posted to social networking websites. But, let’s be honest, 19 per cent is still too high.¬† Be careful with what you put out there because it can come back to haunt you.

Have you checked out the Tangled Web blog? Send us your links, we’d love to hear from you.

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