5 Ways to Protect Yourself Online

I find lists on the internet to be nothing more than click bait. I’m going to do a list of twenty points, and each one will be on it’s own page. Show me the clicks! So, normally I try and stay away from making lists myself. This is an exception, these are five things you can do to help protect your data.

  1. Check your privacy settings.

Deleting your social media account is the nuclear option for protecting your data. They cannot take what isn’t there, after all. However, for most this is probably a step too far. Ultimately, there is a place for social media even if all it is good for is aunty Doris’ cat pictures.

By default all of your settings are open, so go into the settings and lock them down a little. Don’t allow third parties to see your data, and restrict things so that you only share with your friends. The other thing to do is check your settings regularly. How often do you read those emails that say that the privacy settings have changed?

  1. Be careful who you friend.

In the real world, aren’t you careful what you tell people the first time that you meet them? Would you tell them your whole life story? There is nothing wrong with having a lower bar for friendship online. Just don’t accept requests from people you don’t know. Remember one thing, it isn’t a competition to see who has the most friends online.

If you are wanting to create a distinctive online presence, have it separate from your personal information. Create a fan page for your blog, have a private twitter account and a public one. Be in control of what people can see.

  1. Do not share your passwords.

My day job is in corporate IT, and I’m no longer shocked when I find out that everyone in an office shares each other’s passwords. If person x is off, I might need to log on as them to check their email, isn’t an excuse. A good IT department can manage this, without the need to share passwords.

I’m going to let you into a secret, people aren’t good with passwords. How many people use the same\similar passwords for all their accounts? Passwords are a good thing, but these days we seem to have one for everything. It could be worse, they could all be linked to your social media account.

  1. Ask yourself, does the request make sense.

Every app you install these days wants to have access to everything on your phone. Does that game you’ve just installed really need access to my contacts list? Does my search engine break if I don’t tell it my location? Remember, the whole Cambridge Analytica thing came from an app, not directly from Facebook.

I’ve set my phone and tablet to notify me when an app wants to access something on the device (location services, camera, picture roll and the like). Most of the time it isn’t an issue, but sometimes it fails the sniff test and then I swing the no hammer.

  1. Don’t share everything online.

This is hopefully the piece of advice that makes the most sense. I may be old, but it still surprises me when I read that <insert name of famous person> had their naked pics leaked online. I only have one question; For all that is holy, why are you storing your naked selfies online?

If you don’t something to become public, do not put it into the public space. No matter how careful you are, there is still a chance that it will get out. Unfortunately, that is just how things are in the real world. Make sure that your bank details or address is easy to access. Share what you want to, rather than everything.

At the end of the day, it is all about being in control of what you put online, and who had access to it. Just be careful out there.

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