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Here in the U.K. the newspapers report regularly on ‘hack attacks’ in which hidden criminals manage to overcome cyber defences and make off with passwords, identifying information or both.  It seems a regular item on many news bulletins, with the television reporting frequently that “many thousands of people have had their bank details stolen, as well as their names, addresses, phone numbers and other data”.  This information can then be used to target unsuspecting victims, often with the aim of getting them to hand over even more data so that fraud can be carried out.  It might be a pretty safe statement to make that online security practices which help ensure our online privacy are very important for us all to follow.

Many people spend a lot of time online nowadays, conducting social, shopping and financial transactions over the Internet and enjoying the benefits that our connected world provides.  Sharing photos, videos and thoughts on social media is now a daily activity for many, yet are you aware of who can see what is on your Facebook, Twitter or other social accounts?  If you are unsure as to who exactly you are sharing your personal information with, it may be a good idea to log on to these services and to review your privacy settings.  It should be possible to limit your audience to friends, family or both, and this will ensure that what you share will be with those you know, rather than the whole Internet community.  This is especially important when you go on holiday, for example, as holiday photos shared online for all to see can mean an alert to burglars that there is no one at home this week.  If you are a parent or guardian of a younger person, they may need help to adjust their settings, too.

Being careful with your passwords, and making sure that you don't reuse the same password on many different websites means that even if one password is stolen the rest of your accounts will remain secure.  An online search for 'password manager software' will show you what solutions are available to help you safeguard your logins.  This type of software (or app, or service), safely stores all your different usernames and passwords, then protects access to them with one master password.  This is useful as you only have one password to remember, meaning that you can make that one more complex and harder to guess.

If we are confident that what we are sharing is going to be kept private and not put out there for all to see, we can be more open and relaxed in our communication and dealings with people and services.  By being conscious of our online security, we can do a lot to ensure we maintain our online privacy.  More information about staying safe online can be found at www.getsafeonline.org .

Rob Oglesby MBACP (Accred) B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy

Ashwood Therapy provides a discreet, confidential and professional online counselling service by encrypted video call, live instant messaging and secure email.  More details, including tips on wellbeing and information on current counselling session pricing, can be found at www.ashwoodtherapy.com

Online Security and Online Privacy

Online Security and Online Privacy | Ashwood Therapy Wellbeing Blog