Valentine’s Day is no excuse to put your identity at risk

St. Valentine was quite the match-maker, marrying young couples against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II and literally losing his head into the bargain.

Though the story is a popular one, in truth, nobody knows who he really was. In today’s modern world, however, identity is much more than just a romantic, mythological notion.

People are defined and inextricably married to their data. They form relationships with apps and live their lives through them.

This is not without its risks, especially during uplifts in online activity that occur around Valentine’s Day, whether it is shopping online for loved ones or trying to meet someone through a dating app.

 Protecting identities and data

They say that love is blind and, when passion clouds judgement, it can lead to misfortune.

>See also: The seven types of e-commerce fraud explained

Cyber criminals are always trying to exploit weaknesses in bad security habits by hacking into usernames and passwords.

The intention is to steal identities or infiltrate network systems to steal valuable data. Meanwhile, the use of encrypted communications containing malware and many other advanced techniques may subject both users and companies to malicious attacks.

Recently, 400 million accounts were compromised in the AdultFriendFinder hack and millions of people who signed up to Ashley Madison were rudely exposed when their data was leaked.

Interestingly, St. Valentine’s name derives from ‘Valentinus’, which is taken from the Latin word for ‘worthy, strong or powerful’.

These are the very traits e-commerce firms and dating app pioneers should be seeking in their security solutions for protecting users’ identity and data.

Ideally, this will include a flexible authentication solution, whereby businesses can apply different controls to the same user depending on where they are, what device they are using and when they attempt to access.

This also gives robust control to enforce correct levels of authentication while minimising disruption for valid users when they log into systems. The technology typically used here is known as an intelligent authentication proxy.

>See also: Consumer purchasing decisions heavily influenced by data breaches

This kind of service provides a centralised user login facility, which establishes a user’s identity in one or more ways and then proceeds to authenticate them into different applications.

Ultimately, it is our own individual responsibility to be vigilant. If a cyber criminal is only a few clicks away from invading your world, you have to do everything possible to protect the door to your data.

Understand that credentials, such as passports, health details, bank accounts and academic qualifications, are all unique and must be safeguarded.

Identity theft is a nightmare if it happens, because your unique information sometimes cannot be changed, especially date of birth, mother’s maiden name, social security number, etc.

Therefore, be aware of who you are engaging with and how your data is being used. Always double check that the company you are dealing is genuine. Do you really trust them? If there are any doubts, it is your right to refuse to share sensitive information.

Always secure your data with robust passwords and change them regularly.

Take action to keep your data safe

There is no doubt that society’s passion for technology in the romantic season has opened up new opportunities to engage with others more effectively, including the way we find a partner or simply to keep relationships through social media or business channels.

>See also: 5 ways to prevent digital identity theft

Unfortunately, cyber criminals are also taking advantage of inconsistencies between apps inside the data centre and those in the cloud.

 Taking the heartache out of data breaches and tackling cyber security is a collective responsibility.

Firms need to implement comprehensive and advanced controls to fortify their operations and we, as consumers, need to take more control in how we manage our personal data.

Whether love is in the air or in the app, make sure your personal data is protected and chances are we can start to kiss goodbye to cybercrime sooner rather than later.

Sourced by Tristan Liverpool, Systems Engineering Director, F5 Networks

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...