In the last couple of weeks I’ve received separate emails from Sega and Travelodge informing me that my personal details have been ‘stolen’ by hackers and may be used in phishing attacks against me. These are just a couple in a long line of examples of well publicised hacks against major online sites.
- BBC News: Sega says hackers stole data of 1.29 million users
- BBC News: Travelodge customer data stolen
Actually this likely won’t affect me at all. I have no faith in web sites keeping my personal data safe and don’t trust the security of online retailers at all. My email is delivered via collaborative filtering anti-spam techniques and I rarely see spam nowadays anyway.
I use a different secure password for every web site and never divulge real personal details in online registrations. They don’t have my real date of birth, mother’s maiden name or anything else considered valuable information by the hacker community.
Don’t forget that the retailers have no idea what your real personal details are, so you are perfectly entitled to make up what you want when you register with them. I strongly advise you to invent a pseudo-identity with an alternative date of birth and security credentials. As long as you keep note of what these are then you won’t have a problem with authentication and you won’t be exposed to serious data theft if your details are exposed.
It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that online retailers are being compromised in this way. Despite Travelodge’s claims that their “main priority is to ensure the security of our customers’ data” I don’t imagine that customer data security is at the top of the average retailer’s requirements list when it comes to web site design.
As Travelodge are so fond of saying – “Sleep tight” !