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Keeping your data locked down: how do websites keep your personal data secure?

by Staff Writer
17 May 2021 at 13:35hrs | Views
Although the rise of the digital economy has been underway for quite some time, it seems that in the last year or so the global transition to a fully digital, near cashless society has increased significantly.

This has certainly been true of the world in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, with millions across the globe having to rely on e-commerce and so called 'click & collect' services to purchase basic supplies and provisions.

Unfortunately, however, with this transition, we are only seeing increased risks associated with digital services, and it seems that we are in the unfortunate position where digital literacy rates are not necessarily growing in line with the growth of the digital economy.

This puts us in a potentially dangerous situation where those individuals lacking basic digital literacy skills, such as being able to tell when a website is secure, are subject to substantial risk online.

The potential cost of this risk to both individuals and financial institutions, not to mention online businesses, is significant and could see billions of dollars across the globe each year being siphoned off to illegal activities or nefarious individuals.

In fact, according to a recent research report, the estimated global loss due to e-commerce fraud has risen to $20 billion in 2021, which represents an 18% rise from the previous year. Similarly, digital banking services have also reported a rise in fraud, data breaches and scams using personal information.

One of the major sources of this risk is from websites that have fallen prey to a hack that compromises the details of all the users who have ever signed up to or used the website. These details can then be sold on the black market to criminals who will use them to access other websites where you have an account, such as your email account or your online bank account. This is an all too common way for unauthorised individuals to access your online accounts.

With this in mind, it is increasingly important to ensure that you have a good understanding of how websites keep your personal data secure so that you can avoid exposing yourself to this risk. A good example of a sector that has responded well to the growing risk posed by compromised personal data is the online gambling sector. With the rise of online gambling in South Africa and other countries, there has never been a greater need to keep the personal data of users safe. This is particularly true in a context where much of this industry growth is from new and less experienced users.

With all that said, let's consider some of the ways that businesses, such as e-commerce platforms and online casinos, keep your personal data safe. Once you are familiar with some of these, you will be able to look out for them on any website you intend to use.

Secure payment methods

A good sign that a website you are intending to use is keeping your personal data safe is if they use a third party to process your payment. Look for common payment processors such as Stripe, PayPal, Visa or Mastercard. While not an exhaustive list, these are just some of the reputable names you might come across.

A third-party payments processor is preferable as it means the website in question will not store any of your personal financial details on their servers - this means that fewer people are likely to be able to gain access to them.

SSL encryption

Although you will probably have seen it included on a website you have used in the past, you might not actually have known what it signifies!

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, which is essentially an encryption-based internet security protocol that keeps any communication you make with a website you are browsing secure. If it isn't SSL secure, it means the connection will be open and any information you share will be exposed.

You might also come across other forms of SSL, such as HTTP and HTTPS, which provide essentially the same function.

Look for a data protection policy

Most websites and businesses these days are required to have a comprehensive data protection policy in place that sets out how the website in question - also known as the 'data controller' - will deal with and store your personal information. In many countries around the world this is now a legal requirement.

A good sign that a website keeps your personal information safe is if they have a comprehensive data protection policy in place. They are often required to make this policy readily available to users, so it will generally not be too difficult to find. If you can't find one, this is a sign that you should do further investigations before trusting them with your personal information.

Source - Byo24News