We live in a social media world where anything and everything goes, and nothing is off limits. But we operate in it at our peril. What follows are what may seem some obvious common-sense suggestions to ensure online privacy but they often are ignored, especially when you think you’re online with friends, and therefore let your guard down.
So read on to discover ways to avoid open season on your privacy…
One: Revealing personal information
The first rule to observe may seem like a no-brainer, but it is a worthwhile admonition to kick-off this advice article. Avoid sharing sensitive personal data- especially online in public places. Revealing bank or credit card info is a no-no, followed closely by discussing personal tidbits about yourself via email or social media. You never know where they will end up or who is watching or listening.
Did you know, by the way, that some folks still insist on putting their phone numbers online? Like everyone is dying to know you’ve replaced your lost number, and finally have a new one! Be smart and don’t do it. It’s a marketer’s dream come true. Better, if you’ve got your contacts backed up to iCloud or Google (always a good idea*), you can send out a text message with your new number. Alternatively, you can share a post that you’ve got a new number. If anyone wants it, they can DM you — and you can take it from there.
Likewise with vacation plans, we sometimes can’t help but crow about an upcoming trip. This may be okay at a party or get-together, but shouldn’t be broadcast on social media because it’s an open invitation to get robbed. Some thoughtless people compound the error by posting a selfie while on vacation, that includes a revealing caption with dangerous, revealing information.
Two: Trusting open Wi-Fi Network
Being constantly on the go has forced us more and more to use public WiFi networks to socialize or conduct business, but this can be dangerous. David Maimon, University of Maryland Assistant Professor in Criminology and Criminal Justice, said recently,
“The major hazard with public Wi-Fi is the fact that all the information you’re transferring is available to everybody on the network.”
So remember that not all WiFi is friendly. Don’t hook up to just any network unless you’re familiar with it. Ask a manager of an establishment for the credentials of their network, as it’s not unheard of for criminals to set up hotspots in busy areas. And even then, the only way to make sure your session is secure, is making use of a VPN.
Three: Syncing social media accounts
Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and LinkedIn may all be completely synced, so when you post an update to one network, it goes everywhere at once. While we applaud you for your social diligence and efficiency, this isn’t the best thing to do. Consider targeting your platform for optimum results. Because if you are linked, it gives a hacker the option of posting on other sites once the compromised site is breached.
Four: Sharing too much information about your kids
Sharing photos of kids and posting their real names is a no-no for a variety of reasons – safety being chief among them. But then there’s the future to look to. Wouldn’t it be great if Junior could start out life with a clean slate – that is, without excess baggage from his or her childhood? Choose a nickname for the photographed imp instead. He/she will be grateful that there isn’t some Google gallery of embarrassing photos from ages ago. And, while you’re at it, avoid sharing private information such as your home location, which could nail down your identity.
Five: Not protecting your passwords
Next, let’s talk about passwords. There are some situations where password sharing is totally acceptable, such as Netflix and HBO Go, but when it comes to email, banking, Facebook, and Twitter, there’s no need to share your password. Even rock-solid relationships turn sour, and can leave you exposed and vulnerable if a partner or friend walks. If you must share security data with someone, make note of it so you can erase it or change it later.
Think about employing two-factor authentication. This applies when you log into an account from a new or strange device. The service then sends you an email or text message with a code you have to input in addition to your normal passcode. It will quickly thwart an attack by shutting down it down. For folks who do much sensitive financial work online, it is something important to consider.
*Editors note: Unless you are concerned about NSA surveillance and your personal details being used to deliver targeted advertising.