Protect yourself Online

Social networking sites such as Facebook, bebo and myspace are a rich source of information to those involved in identity theft. The sites encourage you to post personal information, such as your date of birth, your family, and your pets. This is the type of information that banks you ask for security questions. This is also a rick with blogs and with sites that host your CV, etc.

Criminals can take information about you from different websites to guess these bank security questions. They construct an accurate profile of you, and then impersonate you to open credit cards and bank accounts in your name.

However, it is very easy to safely enjoy these online services, if you just take some simple precautions.

Be wary about providing:

  • Your middle name
  • Your address with postcode
  • Date of birth
  • Landline or mobile number
  • Previous addresses
  • Work or study details

Never reveal (except on legitimate bank websites):

  • National insurance number
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Pets' names
  • Any bank details

Other Risks


  • Only submit your credit card or bank account details to the web site of a well-known and respected organisation.
  • Type in the web address of the bank or financial site yourself, never click a link form an email.
  • When you log in to a financial site, the web address will start with https and there will be a padlock icon in the bottom right corner of the browser.

Social Networking

  • Read the privacy statement, for example Facebook lets non-members read reduced profiles.
  • Possibly use a seperate, non-University email address for social sites.
  • Use an anonymous screen name rather than your real name, and never reveal any middle names.
  • Be slightly suspicious when people you don't know send friend requests.
  • Read the CiCS page on Facebook security

Protect yourself on Facebook


  • Cookies are mostly harmless files that websites use to remember you.
  • They can be used by malicious sites for targeting advertising at you or for identity theft.
  • Search engines use them with your IP address - your searches are not anonymous.
  • Set your browser to block or warn you about cookies. (Tools menu, Options, Security and Privacy settings)

firefox cookies warning dialog box