Another day, another data breach.
The email addresses and travel details of about 10,000 people who used free wi-fi at UK railway stations have been exposed online.
The database, found online by a security researcher, contained 146 million records, including personal contact details and dates of birth.
It was not password protected.
There's a really easy way to protect yourself from being a victim. Lie.
When a WiFi provider asks for your email address, lie. When someone who doesn't need to validate your age asks for your date of birth, lie. When you're asked to provide your name in order to register for a service, lie.
Obviously, don't lie to the police, tax inspectors, or your doctor. Don't lie to people who need accurate data about you.
Eight years ago, I was at a Parliamentary conference about online privacy. I tweeted:
#PICONF12 Andy Smith says "never use your real details online" - Martin Hewitt not looking best pleased. Nor the other MP in the room.
— Terence Eden (@edent) October 25, 2012
I think that recommendation still stands. Giving away your personal details puts you at risk.
Whenever a free WiFi provider asks me for my details, I'm usually
email@example.com. My date of birth is 1900-01-01. And my phone number is from the fake range provided by OfCom.
Here's a list of all the times that has caused me problems:
Every time I give out a real email address or phone-number, it inevitably starts to receive spam. Every week we see news stories about companies behaving irresponsibly with our data. Exposing us to risk.
Stop giving out your information to people who have no need for it.
Your personal safety is more important than a company's desire for a better marketing database.