Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are a great way to stay in touch with family, reconnect with friends, share news and photos and broadcast what’s on your mind. They are also the smartest way for cyber criminals to find out information about you and the people you relate with. The cyber criminals find it easy because after all, most people provide a lot of personal details like where they work, who they’re related to, when they’re on holiday, their address and so on without giving it much thought – making it easy for just about anyone to learn or know what they want to know about you.
It’s easy to protect yourself on social networking sites by going to the profile settings and making sure your life isn’t an open book for anyone to read.
Below are a few things you may want to consider doing to protect your profile:
• Always set your privacy settings to the highest level available.
• Control who can search your name, see your photos or view your profile.
• Don’t include your age, address, phone number or email address.
• Remember that any photos or videos you post online can be downloaded, altered or printed, so consider a graphic or avatar for your profile picture.
• Give lots of thought to posts, blogs and status updates that give away too much information.
Reputable websites should always have Internet privacy policies in place. It’s in your best interest to take your time when you visit a site to review the privacy and security settings. Review these on a regular basis since they can change from time to time. For instance:
Online Chat and Instant Messaging
Online chat and instant messaging have become essential forms of communication, with billions of messages being exchanged around the world every day. It may be a convenient way to get your message out, make plans or have a conversation, but it does come with some risks.
In order to reduce the risks, here are some things to think about:
• Keep your personal information to yourself when you’re chatting online. Never give out your address, phone number, email address or send pictures of yourself.
• You may want to consider using a nickname instead of your real name to protect your identity.
• Always be careful about who you meet online. You never know if the person on the other end is who they say they are.
• If you decide to meet with someone in person, meet during the day and tell a family member or friend where you’ll be (or take someone with you).
• Remember, even if you become quite friendly with someone, they’re still a stranger – so treat them as such.
• Make sure your profile doesn’t include personal information that can be easily accessed and end up in the wrong hands.
• Never stay in a chat that makes you feel uncomfortable. All it takes is one click to get out of it.
• Keep a copy of any conversation that makes you feel uneasy in case you need to report it.
FORUMS: TAKING PART IN ONLINE FORUMS
Forums provide you with a space to talk to other like-minded people with similar interests, concerns or issues. You can find a topic on just about any subject and get involved without revealing your identity. While forums can be a source of comfort, motivation and even friendship, use the same caution as you would any other social networking site:
Keep your personal information private. Spammers will look for email addresses and any other details on forums and sites that aren’t secure. If you choose to include an email address, create a secondary one through Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or other similar service.
Remember that you’re talking to strangers, no matter how friendly you become. You never know who’s on the other side.
ENTERTAINMENT, GAMES AND CONTESTS
The Internet has evolved to become many peoples’ primary source of entertainment, including everything from watching television shows and movies to online games and contests. But as with everything in the cyberspace, there are things you should do to keep yourself safe so you can enjoy the experience without worry. Watch this page for more information about staying safe online.
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