How often do you provide your personal information online, upon request? How many times a day do you find yourself filling out forms on the internet which require your name, phone number, ID, bank account, credit card number, etc.? We’ve gotten so accustomed to sharing our private data online, it seems like we sometimes do it without even noticing. Part of the reason for that is the fact that we are certain this information is secure, with no chance of it reaching the wrong hands.
Alt text: There are some very bad minds out there on the World Wide Web.
Well, we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but your information isn’t as safe as you think it is. In 2021, there are many dangers lurking in the cyber sphere, and you need to make sure that when you click the ‘send’ button after filling out a form, you’re doing it on a website that you can trust. Let’s try to understand why it has become easier for the bad people of the virtual reality to steal your personal details recently.
Bye bye, brick and mortar
One of the more blessed revolutions brought on by the World Wide Web is the ability to shop online. It’s quicker, more convenient, and usually cheaper – and that’s without even beginning to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on our shopping habits. Given that, it’s clear why there are a whole lot more online stores to choose from today than there were just a few years ago.
However, while you can trust the bigger, well-known brands that their online payment systems are as secure as can be, that is not always true for smaller and cheaper online stores. So, how can you tell if the website you want to buy from is worthy of your credit card details? Usually they use the services of cyber payment companies which handle encrypted transactions. The name of the company appears on the website of your store, so do a bit of research online to learn more about it – and its history.
Alt text: Stop to think before punching in those numbers.
Smart scammers, clever cons
You can be sure that just like the internet has become more sophisticated, so have the people who use it to commit crimes. For example, just in the past year, several new types of forex scams have sadly become common. These scams usually start out with an online broker persuading investors to deposit money for trade online, promising great returns on investments, and end up with the broker disappearing with the money.
However, crime is no longer limited to the shady online trading world. There are also romance scams, inheritance scams, lottery scams – the criminal mind seems to have thought of everything. There’s even a scam where the victims are being conned into donating money to a fake charity, only to discover that their hard-earned income has not done any good to society.
The land of no law
It may surprise you, but even in 2021, there are no real, global standards by which websites and domains must operate – especially regarding privacy and security. True, credit card companies do not work with any amateur or dubious site, but sometimes we provide other sensitive data like email addresses or telephone numbers online, without thinking of encryption or data sensitivity.
That’s not the biggest problem, though, since we as internet users can choose which forms we fill out online and which ones we don’t. The issue here is enforcing laws and punishing those who do not abide by them. Since there’s no real international code of conduct regarding internet safety, it is up to each nation to set its own standards. While setting standards is nice, policing to make sure they are kept is nearly impossible, if you keep in mind that the internet is a global entity.
Alt text: A virtual game of cat and mouse.
Yes, jurisdiction is a big problem here. Take, for example, the forex fraud sites mentioned earlier. Most of them are physically based in countries where regulation is very lax on one hand but operate worldwide on the other hand. That way, it becomes very hard to bring them to justice by the law of the victim’s country of residence.
There are a lot more reasons for this feeling of cyber insecurity in 2021, such as the difference in infrastructure around the world, the lack of cooperation from credit card companies’ side when trying to cancel bad deals, and more. All in all, the point here is that you have to be very careful each time you provide data online. If you’re not going to watch your own back, nobody else will.