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How to have a secure Internet profile

International Information Security Day has been celebrated every year since November 30, 1988 in order to raise awareness of the importance of security when providing data and of the risks associated with going online. Although this day was originally commemorated under the name Computer Security Day in the U.S., an Association for Computing Machinery initiative later expanded it to other countries with the name International Information Security Day.

It is increasingly common to provide personal information when going about our everyday lives – downloading aps, registering on websites, opening accounts on social networks, making online purchases…

Providing our data at no charge has become a huge business – the business of big data. According to IBM, big data is “the technological development that has opened the doors to a new way to understand and make decisions based on large amounts of data, which would be very costly to analyze in a database without these new processes.” This phenomenon arose as a result of an awareness of how valuable these data are in a world moving toward the personalization of goods and services. It is currently booming. For our bank, big data is a fundamental part of the innovation process as this technology helps our everyday lives through apps like the BBVA Valora app, which uses big data to calculate what the price should to rent or buy a property. Or the UN Global Pulse and BBVA Data & Analytics research project that has made it possible to measure the resilience of places affected by natural disasters by analyzing data on financial transactions. The research has offered highly valuable information on the economic strength of those affected by natural disasters.

However, the information we provide online is not always used for a good purpose. Due to the volume of data traffic that currently takes place and the possibility of our personal data reaching people who use it illegally, the Internet Security Office (OSI) and the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AGPD) developed an Internet privacy and security guide. The publication explains the dangers Internet users are exposed to when going online and the need to create strong passwords and backups. It also offers advice on online shopping, how to avoid malware and things to look for in social networks’ privacy settings. The AGPD also provides free data protection tools to use when going online.

International Information Security Day has been celebrated every year since November 30, 1988 in order to raise awareness of the importance of security

The guide stresses that passwords represent one of the primary weaknesses when using the Internet. They offer advice on how to make passwords more secure:

  • Choose stronger passwords of at least eight characters, including capital letters, lower case letters, numbers and special characters;
  • Do not use passwords that are easy to guess like “12345678”, “qwerty”,”aaaaa”, family members’ names, etc.;
  • Do not share passwords with others;
  • Do not use the same password for several services;
  • Think of a sentence that’s easy to remember which includes the password.

The guide also warns of so-called phishing – the technique used by cybercriminals to obtain users’ personal information and bank details by impersonating a legitimate institution like a bank, social network, public institution, etc. The organization offers advice on how to avoid these cybercriminals:

  • Take precaution with emails from bank regarding security problems and data privacy, or emails that offer discounts, awards and prizes;
  • Grammatical mistakes in the message are cause for suspicion;
  • Anonymous messages with phrases like “Dear customer” or “user notification” tend to be warning signs since they are so impersonal;
  • Be suspicious of messages that force you to make a decision in a short period of time;
  • Check to see if the text from the link coincides with the address provided; and
  • Remember that services tend to use their own domains and corporate email addresses.

In short, even taking into account the advice included above, it’s important to always be aware of where and to whom you provide your data and try to use the Internet safely and responsibly.