In this high-tech world, the internet has proven to be an indispensable commodity. Indeed, having access to loads of information, and the convenience of doing transactions without having to leave your doorstep has made our lives easier. Sadly, there’s always the other side of the coin, such as horror stories of identity theft and tarnished online reputations.
The truth is, you never be too safe online. Check out FN’s 5 Tips to staying protected online.
1. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU POST
Updating our Facebook profiles might be second nature, but it’s important to take note of just how much information about yourself are you willing to share. After all, online information is pretty much up for grabs for public consumption, so it pays to be careful. This is not just limited to confidential information such as your exact address and credit card numbers, but also to public profiles and photos. An article from Science Mag reports that employers do a Google check on applicants, so you have to make sure that you do not post anything incriminating, or even plain embarrassing that could leave a dent on your reputation. Also, the US Federal Trade Commission reminds everyone that “even if you delete the information from a site, older versions exist on other people’s computers,” so it’s important to exercise caution on sharing personal information.
2. BE AWARE OF THE WEBSITE'S SECURITY SETTINGS
Make sure that you know who can access your online profile by keeping tabs on the website’s privacy settings. Social networking sites have settings that allow you to share information to you and to a bunch of friends, or to the entire world. Facebook’s Safety Page advises users “to review privacy settings often,” as minor, unannounced tweaks can make a once-private profile easily searchable in Google. Do make it a habit to check your social network sites’ security settings every now and then, as well as any site that you intend to input personal information in.
3. DON'T JUST CLICK ON ANY LINK
We’ve all received e-mail spam, and most of us have learned the hard way that not all links should be trusted. Seemingly harmless links can give you tons of headaches: worms, malware (malicious software), and a variety of viruses that could lead to a computer crash. Trust your instincts–if you’re having doubts on a suspicious-looking link, even if it’s from a friend, then better not click it. For all you know, it may not be even your friend who’s really sending it in the first place, as somebody might have hacked into your friend’s account to spread malicious links.
4. ALWAYS VERIFY INFORMATION
As the previous tip pointed out, it’s important to be keen on which links you go to. These days, website hacking is not a thing for science fiction novels, so check with your friends if they’re really the ones behind the weird e-mail and links that you’ve been getting recently. According to StaySafeOnline.org, it pays to have a “security suite” that’s composed of firewall, updated anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. It further adds to make sure that the website you’re going to visit is totally legit, especially if you’re being asked for confidential information. It also helps to check out the comments section to get a drift of what the website is like, as mentioned in our previous online shopping article.
5. BE WARY OF FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS
Connecting with someone online is not a bad thing. After all, online friendships, and even romances aren’t that uncommon. However, it’s still important to exercise caution when you plan to meet up in person. The US Federal Trade Commission recommends to do background checks first, especially if you know friends of your online friend who can vouch for that person’s character. As much as possible, do not go to meet-ups alone, and suggest that you go to a public venue in broad daylight.
Read up on more ways you can be cyber safe:
- Mai Mislang Mistweets + 5 Things Never to Say on Social Network Sites
- How to Clean Up Your Online Image
- Buyer Beware Part I: How to Go Online Shopping, the Safe Way
- The Web-savvy Fashionista's Guide to Online Shopping
(Photo by dmitrybarsky on Flickr Creative Commons)