No one can guarantee your safety from identity theft, cyber-bullying and other threats that may surface from the use of social media and the internet in general. However, there are some common sense tips that can be used to protect you and your loved ones.
The internet is often referred to as the “Information Superhighway.” Your profile on social networking sites is similar to a billboard on a regular highway. Keep in mind that anything you post on social networking sites could be exposed to “facecrooks” who will try to do you harm.
The list below is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you a solid foundation on your road to cyber security. Also check out our other resources for more information on the subject.
- Always maintain strict privacy settings on sites you frequent. Don’t leave your profile, homepage or wall open for anyone to view. Do not have any privacy settings set to the “public” option. Only allow members or friends to view your information. (“friends” is the most secure option)
- Know who your friends are. Don’t accept friend requests unless you are 100% sure you know the person. The person you friend could be a criminal, a creeper or even a member of the federal government!
- Maintain a separate email account that you use to access your social networking sites. (Gmail, Yahoo & Windows Live (Hotmail) all offer free email addresses.
- Maintain strong, secure passwords, and never give your password out to anyone. Passwords should be a minimum of eight characters and should contain upper and lower case letters and numbers. It is a good practice to change passwords often. Also, do not use the same passwords to access primary email accounts, banking accounts or other sensitive information as you do to access social networking sites.
- Don’t reveal too much personal information about yourself. (your last name, address, cell phone numbers, place of employment etc.). Opt out of any geo-location sharing options as they become available.
- Don’t “tweet” or post to your wall that you are going to be away from home. Let others know what a fun time you had on your night out, business trip or family vacation when you return.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Be wary of links and 3rd party applications, and strongly consider purchasing identity theft protection services. Never, ever click on links unless you are 100% sure they are safe. Many scams and threats are masked to appear like a legitimate message from a friend. Messages like, “You have got to see this!” or “I can’t believe you did that!” are most assuredly links to viruses, trojans, malware or phishing schemes.
- If you have children or teens in the home, strongly consider using internet monitoring software. Programs are available that can monitor all internet activity and email alerts to you. Some argue that children have a right to privacy, but your first priority is keeping them safe and alive. Some experts advise that it is a good idea to let them know they are being monitored.
- Check here often and visit our privacy and safety blog section for current information of privacy & online safety issues. You can also sign up for email alerts on our home page.