New technologies and privacy. What is worth remembering not only on the Safer Internet Day

New technologies are everywhere and are essential in today's world. However, it should be remembered that they bring not only the opportunity for development and other positive aspects, such as access to sources of knowledge, entertainment or social communication in real time, but also many risks.

First of all, extremely important is the high awareness of every user of the Internet and devices connected to the global network (e.g. smartphones), which will allow to minimize the risk carried by unskillful use of technology. It is enough to follow a few basic rules to increase your safety and gain more control over your personal data on the Internet. That is why, on the Safer Internet Day, it is worth reminding you of a few most important issues.

Human ‒ the weakest link of almost every security system

In order to use the Internet in a conscious and safe way, it is necessary to know the contemporary threats.

Sociotechnical attacks come to the foreground, and the number of scammers using these methods has been growing exponentially fast. They consist in manipulating and persuading the user of the system to excessively share personal data.

To prevent personal data from becoming an easy target for criminals, it is enough to follow a few basic rules for handling information shared online, e.g. in social media. As an example, let's use good practices collected in the framework of the "It's worth knowing..." cycle of advices, which are implemented by the Personal Data Protection Office (UODO) in the educational programme "Your data – Your concern".

Good practices that should become a habit of every Internet user

  1. Make sure you have varied and strong login passwords. The password should be difficult to guess and contain upper/lower case letters, numbers and special characters. It is not advisable to remember passwords in your browser's memory or in an app on your device. Also, do not use the same username in combination with an identical password in all applications you use;
  2. Adjust your account privacy settings. Set them so that only trusted people within your circle of friends have access to your private information, personal data, photos, and comments. Also consider whether your profile should be visible to external search engines;
  3. Be careful what information you share with others, including photos and videos. For example, posting pictures of yourself and your loved ones is exposed to the judgment of others, and their possible reaction and comments may be hurtful, annoying, or even vulgar. Remember that the person whose photos you post should at least be informed about this fact. Once published, the information, content or photo may remain in cyberspace forever and the consequences of bad choices may last for years;
  4. Do not reveal too much information about yourself. Social media are not appropriate places to share data/information such as home address, phone number, or parents' workplace. Be careful about posting pictures/records that allow a stranger to locate your whereabouts. Do not post pictures of, for example, your school ID card, identification card, payment card, forms containing personal data, boarding passes or driver's license. Be aware that personal/contact information may be obtained by criminals who would want to use it against you or your loved ones;
  5. Be wary of invitations from unknown users. Be cautious and do not automatically accept friend or follower invitations from strangers. A person claiming to be your peer may in fact turn out to be someone completely different, so be careful when making new friends online. Remember that a stranger may also impersonate your loved one, taking over his/her online identity;
  6. Beware of the so-called phishing. This is one of the most dangerous activities aimed at stealing usernames and passwords, which also concerns social networks. Hackers send links to fake social networks that look like the ones you use every day. By clicking on such links and entering your login details, cybercriminals can gain access to your data;
  7. Beware of malware that may be transmitted through instant messaging. Be vigilant before opening a link you receive, making sure it comes from a trusted source. Hackers take advantage of your inattention to send links to infected sites or add malicious browser extensions so they can take control of your account;
  8. Beware of public or unsecured Internet connections. Do not log into social networking sites while using open networks, as you may risk sharing sensitive information with cybercriminals.