Safe online? Use bogus details, says IT security expert

Safe online? Use bogus details, says IT security expert

In the modern world the majority of business owners want to give their firm the most exposure possible and one way of doing that is by signing up to social networking sites.

Services such as Facebook and Twitter have become invaluable marketing aids and, along with cloud computing and IT outsourcing, helped to take many firms into whole new areas of business.

However, the key snag with these kinds of sites is that they are often used by cybercriminals seeking out easy prey.

But how do you stop your personal details falling into the wrong hands? Well according to Andy Smith, internet security chief at the Cabinet Office, you should only post accurate details on trusted government sites and use fake information on social networks.

His comments have sparked anger amongst a large number of internet users and public figures, with Labour MP Helen Goodman describing the suggestion as being “totally outrageous”.

She told the BBC: "This is the kind of behaviour that, in the end, promotes crime. It is exactly what we don't want. We want more security online. It's anonymity which facilitates cyber-bullying, the abuse of children.

"I was genuinely shocked that a public official could say such a thing."

However, Mr Smith has stood by his comments, arguing that putting real information on social networking sites makes the likelihood of you being targeted by hackers greater.

He told a Parliament and the Internet Conference in Westminster: "When you put information on the internet do not use your real name, your real date of birth.

"When you are putting information on social networking sites don't put real combinations of information, because it can be used against you.

"When you are interacting with government, or professional organisations - people who you know are going to protect your information - then obviously you are going to use the right stuff.

His comments were by backed by the chairman of the Digital Policy Alliance Lord Errol, who claimed he always puts his date of birth down as “April 1st 1900” when asked for it online.

Mr Smith’s comments come in the same month that study by security software developer Splashdata found that people are continuing to put their personal data at risk by relying on easy to hack passwords.

The survey found that the most popular password remains “password”, while “123456” and “12345678” are also used regularly.

It seems that people are continuously using the same passwords for a number of different online accounts.

With things such as email, social networks and online bank accounts to manage, people do not want to have to remember a plethora of different password combinations and use the same easy to recall one across the board.

This is understandable given that research from Experian found that the average person in the UK now has 26 online accounts, but it means that a hacker only has to work out one password in order to gain access to a number of accounts.

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