ALLOW: new ways to protect your privacy and information online
ALLOW has unveiled a new range of services to help keep your personal details safe online. We put them to the test.
Personal data specialist ALLOW has launched a new suite of services which it claims will help protect your personal information and privacy.
ALLOW Protect is designed to cut down on junk emails, stop you being tracked online, prevent email spam, flag up privacy risks on your social media networks and monitor for the exposure of sensitive personal information.
I’ve given it a go to see what it can find about me.
The Data Shield
The first thing I made use of was the Data Shield. You supply ALLOW with certain bits of data that you want the system to monitor across the net, and should it ever see that information appear on a scammer website or wherever, you’ll be notified.
Things that you can flag up for monitoring include website user names, credit card details, email addresses, phone numbers, bank account numbers and passport numbers.
So far I haven’t been notified of any of my information popping up on any sites where they shouldn’t be.
Social media sites like Facebook can cause all sorts of problems when it comes to privacy, something we’ve detailed many times in articles like Why Facebook means your bills will rise.
The Facebook monitor went through posts appearing on my timeline which featured profanity (which could put off future employers), as well as identifying privacy and location risks which could expose me to scammers or burglars.
The results of this were a little surprising. Firstly, I hadn’t realised just how often my friends swear in their status updates. But everything I had put in my profile, from relationship status to political outlook to religion were flagged as being a threat to my security, privacy or both.
Some I can understand – ALLOW points out that my real friends know that I’m married, so there’s no need to really have it on my profile. Similarly, posting which school I went to gives away the answer to a common security question. But I’m not sure that pointing out my political leanings is really much of a threat to my privacy.
The RemoveMe service is really useful – it immediately removed my email account from eight marketing databases. Already my inbox seems a little leaner!
If you want to, the RemoveMe functionality can also be used to sign up for the Mail Preference Service, The Telephone Preference Service, the Royal Mail Door Drops Service and the E-Mail Preference Service. It's all done with the click of a button, much easier than having to sign up individually to each of these services.
This one is only open to people that use Google Chrome as their browser when surfing the internet. The plug-in tool stops websites and advertising networks tracking what you are up to.
Other browsers are on the way, including Firefox and Internet Explorer.
If you receive junk mail in the post, you can register it with ALLOW. The firm will then take steps to try to get you off the marketing list behind the junk mail. You can report junk mail to ALLOW online, via text message or on a Freephone number.
The Emailshield service lets you generate a ‘random’ email address which you can enter when using websites like Amazon. The address is generated by ALLOW, so you’ll still receive the emails, just without having to dish out your details!
Data Risk Report
Each month you’ll be supplied with a report breaking down your information, privacy and security risks.
What it costs
There are three different costing plans with ALLOW. The basic package includes the Facebook Monitor, Browser Protection and the Data Risk Report. This package is absolutely free.
The next two packages you’ll have to pay for. The monthly package has all of the applications I’ve covered above, plus insurance of up to £10,000 to cover you against your information being hacked, compromised or your identity stolen. This will set you back £2.50 a month. The annual package offers the same, but for £2 a month, though obviously there's more commitment involved.
Both of the paid-for packages come with a 30-day trial so that you can see how it works before having to shell out any cash.
Will I be signing up?
I definitely think it’s worth giving the trial a go. It’s been an eye-opening experience for me, and while I’m not sure it’s something I’ll actually pay for on an annual basis, I can certainly see me paying for a monthly ‘health check’ every now and again, just to be on the safe side.
What do you think? Do you use any specific software or services to keep your details safe online? Will you be giving ALLOW a try?
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