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Google Wi-Fi probe: how to stay safe online

With Google facing another investigation concerning user privacy and the protection of data, it seems that the internet is posing more security risks than we may have realised.

Staying safe whilst online is therefore of paramount importance – but what do you need to know about this latest threat?

Despite the launch of their own stay-safe campaign ‘Good to Know’ last year, Google has recently come under scrutiny for its online safety practices.

This latest investigation revolves around the development of its Street View service, with the firm accused of using vehicles designed to capture images of residential areas to obtain sensitive and personal information.

This complaint was lodged once before, with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) being assured that any information obtained by these vehicles was done so unintentionally.

However, fresh claims have challenged this assertion, with Google once again accused of using these vehicles to gather personal private data from Wi-Fi networks.

Modern threats for a modern world

Unfortunately, this investigation is far from the only threat which is afflicting the internet and there is an abundance of other dangers which users could be exposed to.

With unsecured networks allowing third parties almost unlimited access to your personal information, how you connect to the Internet can play an important role in your online security.

With smartphones now capable of connecting to remote Wi-Fi services, investing in security for your mobile is especially important – with reports that cybercriminals are targeting Android users only adding to this.

Staying safe online

With numerous threats posed to you and your personal information, staying safe should be a priority for all internet users. To enhance your online protection, follow these steps:

  • Only divulge personal or sensitive information to sites you can trust. These will be secured web pages which feature a small padlock icon in the browser bar.
  • To stay safe when shopping online, sign up to a secure log-in service with your bank or building society. These are designed to add an extra layer of security checks when processing payments, thus preventing unsavoury characters from obtaining this sensitive information. Alternatively, consider authorising payments using PayPal rather than entering your card or bank details directly.
  • Make sure your computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone are all protected by sufficient anti-virus software.
  • Be wary of links posted on social media sites or sent in emails. If you are suspicious or do not trust the source then do not open the link.
  • Make sure all of your passwords are secure, and do not use the same ones for every service. Remember to avoid using obvious passwords such as your date of birth, and use a combination of capitalised letters, numbers and symbols.