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Social media insurance launched in the UK - is your data protected?

Individuals and businesses are being reminded to think twice about the personal data they upload onto social media sites in order to protect themselves from hackers and ID fraud.

The warning comes alongside the launch of the UK's first social media insurance product designed to help protect against attacks on social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

According to AOL, social media accounts are increasingly being hacked, with some 600,000 Facebook accounts hacked on a daily basis, while 55,000 Twitter accounts were hacked during May.

UK based firm ALLOW says the insurance can help protect a business or individual's reputation if a hacker logs in and posts offensive or derogatory comments in their name.

In this case, 'reverse SEO' is used to find and remove, or override, any offending material that could cause both reputational damage or affect your search ranking.

Other areas for concern include identify fraud, junk email, marketing lists and online cookies that are often used to track a user's journey.

In a statement to the press, ALLOW's CEO Justin Basini said: "There are more cases of hacking, account hijacking and reputational damage emerging all the time. Anyone that has suffered as a result of having their identity stolen or a third party taking over their accounts will know that this can be a distressing and arduous process to put right."

The Metropolitan police have said that criminals need only three pieces of personal information to steal your identity, most of which is publicly displayed on social networks, with the top three most valuable being your full name, date of birth and bank account numbers.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) - the UK's independent authority tasked with upholding the public's information rights - and ALLOW have issued advice on keeping your accounts safe:

  • Be cautious of what you post. Don't post anything that you wouldn't be willing to share on paper or in face to face contact.
  • Check a site's privacy policy to find out what it intends to do with your data. Will it share it with third parties?
  • Review your followers of friends. Consider the types of people who access to your account, although for businesses this may be more difficult.
  • Increase your privacy settings. Control who can and can't see your profile, and what they can and can't see.