2. February 2021 | Service tips

Take it personally: how to protect your data on the web

If the cashier in the supermarket were to ask you for your address, possibly even your age, you would probably react with some irritation. Online, on the other hand, most of us are much less concerned with our personal data. Especially when shopping online, giving your address and payment details is necessary for a successful transaction, but it is still worth being careful with personal data. Online shopping may be convenient, but it also involves risks. Time and again we come across reports that data has been stolen or misused. In today's guide, we show you how you can protect yourself.


Be discreet

As a general rule, you should disclose as little data as possible. The fewer providers have your personal information, the lower the risk of it being stolen. Most people are aware that their credit card details can be stolen and misused. But identity theft requires far less information: your name, address and date of birth are usually enough. Therefore, before placing an order, check whether an online retailer is trustworthy. You can use key data such as the retailer's full contact address, https encryption of the website or seals of approval as a guide. In addition, refrain from giving your address and a correct date of birth in social networks.


Check your user accounts

What information does an app collect? How does an online retailer use my data? And who can actually see what I post on social networks? If you can't answer these questions, it's high time to take a closer look at your privacy settings. It also happens time and again that the settings you have once made are reset after an update of an app, or by changes to the terms and conditions. You are on the safe side if you check your details regularly. Also, take a close look at your account statements. Some online retailers offer the option of paying by direct debit. If debits occur that you can't attribute to any purchase, you have the option of quickly and easily reversing the amount. Also, keep yourself regularly informed about leaks or reports of stolen data.


Protect yourself

If you leave your front door open, you should not be surprised about uninvited guests. This also applies to your user accounts. Cracking them is not that difficult, thanks to passwords like "123456". You should therefore be sure to use strong passwords and choose a separate password for each user account. Many online retailers and social networks also offer two-factor authentication. In addition to your password, you then have to verify yourself either via biometric data, for example your fingerprint, or an access code that the provider sends you via SMS, within an app or by email.


Become an environmentalist

Not only user accounts themselves, but also their environment can become a risk. For this reason you should make regular updates to keep your operating system up to date, as well as to close any security gaps through which attackers can gain access to your computer and your data.

Both your user accounts and your browser offer you the possibility to manage your settings. Make sure you use this option, because the default settings are not exactly favourable to your privacy. You can also control advertisements and block potentially harmful website scripts or trackers via so-called add-ons, small programmes that are installed directly in the browser. Most browsers also offer a "private viewing" mode. If this is activated your browser history, cookies, temporary files and data entered into forms are automatically deleted after you close the browser. This is at the expense of convenience, but allows you more anonymity when you surf the web. It is therefore essential that you should also block all non-essential cookies in order to limit advertising tracking.

Your email account can also prove to be a real treasure for hackers. We often send official documents, such as our scanned passport or identity card, as well as certificates and legal documents to ourselves by email. This is convenient, but gives hackers your most intimate data. For this reason you should delete emails with attachments of this kind when you no longer need them, and be sure to empty the waste bin as well. Also protect your email inbox with a strong password and, if possible, via two-factor authentication.

On the internet and similarly in everyday conversations the same applies: think carefully about how much information you want to reveal. After all, you wouldn't tell a casual acquaintance your address or even your bank account details, would you? So make sure that a website or platform is trustworthy, check your settings regularly and delete accounts you no longer use.