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How to protect your personal data on the internet?

How to protect your personal data on the internet?

Dematerialization is gaining ground and the all-digital is essential, forcing each citizen to have internet access for almost all administrative formalities and those of everyday life. Perhaps you have noticed, for a few months, before being able to discover the home page of a website, a pop-up window opens, offering you to "accept" or "personalize" the management of cookies. This is a measure resulting from the GDPR. What is it about ? And how best to manage all your data?

What are cookies and what does GDPR mean?

Cookies are small text files automatically saved on your hard drive by your browser (Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Chrome, etc.) when you visit websites. However, they have nothing to do with viruses or spyware. They contain personal information about you such as age, nickname, location, browsing habits, etc. The cookies were intended to facilitate the use of the Internet since they had in memory your browsing preferences and a sum of parameters. However, they have become statistical tools to improve site traffic as well as marketing tools, in particular for third-party cookies, which allow the display of targeted advertisements on the sites you visit:for example, if you buy therapeutic slippers on a website, don't be surprised to see advertisements popping up during your next browsing for senior health insurance or for stairlifts... they will have understood that you are retired at a certain age!

To avoid abuse and try to control the use of your information, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), adopted in 2018 at European Union level, frames and harmonises within the EU, the processing personal data, in the extension of the French Data Protection Act of 1978, so that citizens can strengthen control of the use that can be made of data concerning them.

This is why, from now on, before being able to access a site, you are asked about cookies, if you accept, refuse or choose to configure them. If you refuse, some sites will prevent you from going further, if you wish to configure them, you will be directed to an "indigestible" questionnaire with checkboxes which, most often, will discourage you and ultimately lead you to click on "Accept"…

Caution in disclosing your personal information

Beware of phishing or phishing techniques , rife by email suggesting that it is an official email from your bank, taxes, post office, public service, etc. always evoking an overpayment to reimburse you, insufficient postage for a package of which you are the recipient or other trick. The scams are better and better constructed:believing that the request comes from the announced administration, you click while being directed to a website which asks you for personal information such as bank card number, password, date of expiration and cryptogram… so the malicious people behind the screen have everything they need to use and abuse your means of payment.

Be careful by only entering your bank details for a payment on secure sites that can be recognized by the S following the http in the address bar:https:// and the small padlock that is drawn just before. If you have any doubts, check the legal notices which are mandatory (usually at the bottom of the page):if they are missing or if the site is located in Macau, it is better to move on.

Beware of social networks

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks are certainly very practical for keeping in touch with distant family or friends, but be careful what you disclose there. Naturally, when you register and then later by reminder, they invite you to be as exhaustive as possible in filling in your personal information.

On the one hand, enter the minimum necessary because you graciously give them everything they need so that they can display targeted advertisements on your page; and on the other hand, only make your information public for your "friends" or people who follow you, especially with regard to photos of you or of others who have not necessarily given their consent. All of this content is no longer yours, it is delivered in the vast virtual world that is the internet.

Protect your passwords

You certainly have more and more passwords to remember and it annoys you all the more that your memory is not as reliable as before. Don't worry, it's normal, and it happens at any age! However, avoid several pitfalls that can be dangerous for whoever finds your smartphone or computer on:

  • do not accept the automatic filling of your username and password when opening a website;
  • do not choose your date of birth or 1234 and even less 0000;
  • log out before leaving a site where you were logged in;

A password must contain numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters, special characters (§#! For example) and be 8 to 12 characters long. Better to avoid having the same for all sites. It's up to you to find a mnemonic device to remember it like a standard sentence of which you will use the first letter of each word, for example:the question is to know which is the most suitable email for Virginie! could give L?e2Sqel@l+aaV! There are also so-called safes to store passwords safely, but renting them makes sense if you really have a lot of them.

Avoid relaying humorous emails that are too heavy

Finally, to finish, your email is certainly in the lists of friends or acquaintances who send you more or less regularly emails with often very heavy attachments which are the support of a good (or not!) joke. Generally, the e-mail addresses are visible, the sender has not put them in "Bcc" (hidden copy) which means that each other will forward this e-mail to their own friends and your address will end up appearing in growing mailing lists for videos and documents that won't always make you laugh and that can be a source of viruses. Feel free to ask senders nicely to remove themselves from their list. You can mention your environmental concern since sending emails is energy-intensive, especially when grouped with attachments, and the heavier the attachment of an email, the more CO2 it generates when sending but also when the email is stored!