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 could be similar to a billboard on regular highway. Keep in mind that anything you post on social networking sites could be exposed to “facecrooks” that will try to do you harm.
The list below is by no means exhaustive but will give you a solid foundation on your road to cyber security. Also check out the links to the right 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.
- Don’t talk to strangers. You shouldn’t do it in real life, so don’t do it online either.
- 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 8 characters and should contain upper and lower case letters and numbers. It is also a good practice to change passwords often.
- Don’t reveal too much personal information about yourself. (your last name, address, cell phone numbers, place of employment etc.)
- If you decide to meet someone you have met on a social networking site, never go to a first meeting alone.
- 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.