A cyber crime expert at a Scottish university has come up with an easy solution to protect consumers from falling prey to online identity thieves: They should lie about their personal information when surfing the web.
Herald Scotland reports Dr. Ian Ferguson, a cyber crime expert at the University of Abertay, has warned web users about revealing information about themselves, making them potential targets for cyber crooks.
He said no one should give their real date of birth, mother's maiden name, or the name of their first pet for e-commerce accounts, and advised making up false details on social-networking sites.
“There was never any reason why someone should tell the truth with birth dates or your mother's maiden name ““ it's just a secret you can remember,” Ferguson told Herald Scotland. “People think: “˜I'm being asked and I should tell the truth.' But they don't know the way the information is being used and it's the kind of data that can be relatively easy to find out if someone wanted to commit identity fraud.”
Giving a fake birth date is an easy way to make Internet users identity-fraud proof, he said, adding he is certain some online banks have never verified whether users entered their actual birth date.
But creating bogus details would require users to remember which answers they gave to which organizations, which can become a security risk if that information is written down, Ferguson said.
However, the Scottish Business Crime Centre condemned lying online. Gary Ritchie, assistant director of the center, told Herald Scotland:
“I would never condone lying. I don't think you should ever give false details over the Internet. If we are going to do this properly, you need to challenge the provider why they want a particular piece of information, what they intend to do with that, and how they intend to keep it safe. If they cannot answer those questions, then I would not use that service.“