The Problem with Personal Data on the Internet

The Problem with Personal Data on the Internet

The modern internet is an unprecedented economic boon – as well as an interpersonal and creative one. But it isn’t without its downsides. The fact that we can now maintain visible online presences, and broadcast sensitive information about ourselves, often unwittingly, provides cause for concern.

In the most extreme cases, these privacy issues can result in bank accounts being drained, stalking, and even worse. So exactly how is this done, and what can we do to stop it? Let’s take a look.

How do attacks get hold of your information?

As a customer, you might find yourself targeted directly. On the other hand, you might find that information that you’ve voluntarily handed over to a trusted organisation has been later stolen, or that the organisation in question has actually been sharing your information with other businesses.

Often, this later category of information-sharing is illegal, and individuals might find themselves empowered to take action against businesses which haven’t taken appropriate measures to contain a breach, or which have deliberately leaked your information in exchange for money. This is largely thanks to the GDPR, and its implementation in the UK, the Data Protection Act 2018. If you’re unsure of whether you are on the right side of the law, it’s worth confirming it – you could be entitled to data breach compensation.

Among the more popular kinds of attack in recent years has been the phishing attack. This involves attackers setting up fake websites and tricking internet users into inputting sensitive details. The attack will often send out an email with the words ‘urgent’ and ‘action needed’ in the headline; from there they’ll invite you to click a link to navigate to your bank account. Of course, the link doesn’t actually lead to your bank account, but to a page which looks just like it.

Attacks of this kind are becoming increasingly common, and the most effective way to guard against them is through preventative action.

What can a Criminal do Once they’ve got my information?

Data breaches are a problem for several reasons. To begin with, your data is valuable, and can be sold for a profit. Consequently, even if the person who takes your data doesn’t have any intention to do something harmful with it, they might easily sell that data on to someone who does.

Identity theft is straightforward over the internet, provided that you have the right data to hand. An attacker might use your name and address to apply for services in your name. If passwords or email accounts have been compromised, they might use this information to gain access to your bank account, or your accounts for popular online stores, where they can spend lots of money in your name.