How to protect yourself from online identity theft

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vAs part of MODs full-spectrum military capability, the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, has announced that the department is set to recruit hundreds of computer experts as cyber reservists to help defend the UKs national security.

JOHANNESBURG - A tech expert says identity theft is a major concern for internet users this comes amid reports that the personal information of 30-million South Africans has been leaked.

READ: Identity theft escalates in SA

Toby Shapshak, a tech expert explained, “When you use Facebook, Twitter, Google or a Microsoft product you have what’s called a user license agreement. You have to give people permission to use your data as they do to market advertising to you."

"How can it be possible that a company can have so much of our personal information including our ID numbers? This is the kind of information you use to open a bank account, to take out a mortgage to verify your identity."

"Someone could take your information and go an open a credit card can run up a debt in your name,” Shapshak explained.

The TechCrunch outlined the future struggle of internet autonomy, true ownership of a person&39;s online presence, and what that would mean..

Two main steps to ownership of identity explained were: 

1. Establishing ownership of your online actions so you can grant or revoke permission for third-party services to access them.

Meaning, making sure that only you have control of your internet information and are able to choose with whom you should share it.

2. Consolidating all these actions into one location so your digital identity is no longer fragmented between separate walled gardens.

This would mean instead of having separate accounts and histories across internet platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (third-party applications) you would have one identity which you would decide with whom to share your data.

Ron Miller, TechCrunch reporter, writes, “The argument goes that if our identity were on the blockchain, it would give us more control over this information, and with proper applications allow us to present just the minimum amount of information a given party needs to identify us. That could be your date of birth at a bar, your credit score at a bank or a unique identifier to access an online service.”

These steps cannot be fully realised with current technological capabilities but there are other ways to regain some control of your online presence.

Password managers try to limit exposure risk by merging access points to multiple internet applications.

Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com recommended being vigilant, particularly with financial accounts, via online portals.

Regular checkups through statements and on mobile applications to make sure the security of the accounts is intact is a good habit to cultivate.

If you have noticed unusual activity on any of your accounts, report the theft to the website administrator that your account has been affected by fraud.