Ignorance of digital dangers puts consumers at risk

Think safety

Technology users are putting themselves at risk by ignoring how their personal information is being stored and the potential security risks that go hand in hand with digital devices.

This is the conclusion of a round table panel of security experts put together by hosting company UKFast. According to the panel the buzz of social media and the ever-evolving digital scene has created an ignorant culture of technology consumers.

Panelist Hugh Boyes from the Institution of Engineering and Technology at the University of Warwick, believes consumers need to realize exactly what their device is capable of, and precisely what information it holds. "People don’t understand exactly what these devices can do. Take a fitness band, for example. The product isn't actually the wristband; it's the data that is inside it. Yet no one is aware of this. The internet is everywhere, and so in turn, we give our personal information out everywhere. Things like social media, loyalty cards and GPS tracking for instance -- these things all require our personal information. No one hesitates in giving it away if it means being able to use a particular app".

This giving away of information is driven by a culture of convenience says Robert Fuller, director of Innevate, "Because things often seem to happen seamlessly, it doesn't lend itself to people having to think about what processes are involved".

This is echoed by Lawrence Jones, CEO of UKFast, "People are obsessed with speed and usability -- the faster and easier they can achieve something, the better. Even if that means storing your card details, passwords and personal details in the same place or using the same password for everything. It may be more convenient but it's significantly less secure".

Zain Hyed, director of security at Hybrid believes if consumers understood the risks, they would take greater care when handing out their personal details, "After all the Heartbleed media coverage, only 4 in 10 people actually changed their passwords. You'd expect everyone to change their passwords just to make sure they were secure, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. It’s the culture we are living in today -- no one understands the dangers".

The panel offers a number of tips for consumers to ensure that they stay secure. These are:

* Make sure that you install all patch updates and keep your software up to date.
* Have different passwords for each account, then if hackers get old of one password they can’t access your other data.
* Use long passwords, numbers/symbols and full phrase passwords are most effective.
* Read the news -- find out if any services or companies you use been hacked and what you need to do about it.
* Find out where your data is stored and how safely before trusting an organization with your information.

Videos of this and previous round table discussions can be found on the UKFast.tv website.

Image Credit: JJ Studio / Shutterstock

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