Do you know your online reputation score?
Why is your online reputation important?
Without you knowing about it, it is likely that when you shop on the internet, or even if you try to make a purchase offline, the supplier will have systems in place to check your reputation.
If you have a low reputation, they may ask for more checks or more guarantees before transacting.
If you have a very bad reputation, they will walk away.
Therefore, keeping a good online reputation is important in every aspects of your daily life.
What makes me reputable (or not)?
There are several ways to check on your online reputation, but there is no unique magic formula.
The way we determine your online reputation score is first by attributing it to one online identity (generally an email address).
As you may have several online identities, each could carry a different online reputation.
Then, we look at positive and negative sources.
For example, if we can find that your identity is linked to a Facebook or a LinkedIn account, that will back up your online reputation and make it more real.
If we do not find any sources, well at worst you may end up with no reputation at all, which some may interpret as suspicious.
Finally, we look into other criteria which are either actual or have happened to your online identity in the past.
It can include information such as having been blacklisted, flagged as spammy, or if your identity was breached.
There is more to say about Data Breaches, so we keep it for a full section later on.
The score we will provide is between 0 (the worst possible online reputation) and 10 (the unachievable Graal of the perfect online reputation).
How can I improve my online reputation?
The first step is to understand where you stand, and which factor is lowering your online reputation.
Once you have this view, you can start taking targeted action.
However, you have to bear in mind that if your online identity is badly protected, no matter what else you do, you are at risk of getting taken over, and therefore from this moment, anything (bad in general) can happen.
Therefore, irrespective of our detailed guideline, the first step is always to protect your online identity.
Considering that your various suppliers do not always have your online protection at the top of their agenda, you will have to select more carefully which supplier you agree to deal with.
In this day and age, you have more choice than you have time to evaluate them.
Therefore, if a supplier is asking for a "dodgy login" (you know, the one with ID + password), give it a pass!
You will find others who seem more concerned with protecting your data and online identity.
Then, when you register with them (those with no enforced password!), make sure you double down on login protection (such as using a 2FA).
Once your account is secure (with all suppliers!), you may want to have a look into other details, which can be improved.
For example, you may want to register your online identity with more reputable providers, to prove that you exist (not just a robot!) and that you have a real online activity.
You got hacked!
What do you know?
Getting hacked but not knowing about it is the worst that can happen.
You may as well leave the keys to your home on your doorstep and go on holiday for a month.
Indeed, if you know nothing, you cannot do anything.
So first and foremost, get real time information about data breaches and other online identity thefts.
Authenly provides such a service for a tiny subscription fee.
What do you do?
If you know of a data breach that happened to one of your suppliers, it is already too late for keeping those data safe.
They are now circulating on the internet (dark web or otherwise) and are in the open. You have to assume that anybody can have this data.
Therefore, if part of this leaked data contained a password used with this provider, you have to make sure that this same password is never reused in any of your other online accounts.
Because it already circulates among most hackers that your email and password are such and such. Too easy to go into all your other accounts if you do not have basic and good security practices.
Finally, evaluate all other data which got leaked. Is it a problem that these data are in the open?
For example, if such data contain a credit card number, yes this will be a real problem!
Take all measures based on the sensitivity of the data which got leaked.