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Your data security: posting personal information on the web

 
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:27 pm    Post subject: Your data security: posting personal information on the web Reply with quote

4.5 million young Brits' futures could be compromised by their electronic footprint
Online content could seriously damage young people's prospects

As many as 4.5 million young Brits would not want a college, university or potential employer to conduct an internet search on them unless they could first remove content from the web, including social networking sites, according to new research by the Information Commissioner's Office. Over half of Britons aged 14 to 21 surveyed in a new poll have never considered that what they put online now might be permanent and could be accessed years into the future. The cost to a person's future can be high if undesirable information is found by the increasing number of education institutions and employers using the internet as a tool to vet potential students or employees.

Posting personal information on the web is also a gift to fraudsters. Two thirds of the young people surveyed by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) admit to accepting people they don't know as 'friends' on social networking sites and over half leave parts of their profile public specifically to attract new people. The data that they make available includes their date of birth, job title and home address. Couple this basic information with details which might be used to create passwords, like a bother or sister's name, pet's name of mother's maiden name and fraudsters have all the information they need to obtain products and services in someone else's name or access existing bank or online accounts.

The ICO is launching a new website to help young people understand their information rights. It includes top tips for protecting your identity online, including remembering that a blog is for life. If you don't think you'll want it to exist somewhere in 10 years time, don't post it. Your personal safety offline could be affected by what you tell people online, so don't post your place and hours of work. Change your password regularly and use a separate email address for social networking. Finally, remember reputation is everything. What seems funny to you and your friends now might not be to your teachers, university admissions tutor or prospective employer - or to you in years to come.

A third of young people have never read privacy policies on social networking sites and don't understand how they can manage their personal information. But when asked how they feel about websites potentially using their details to target advertising at them or to pass on to other websites, a huge 95% are concerned about this.

For more information visit http://www.youth.ico.gov.uk
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