The Internet has become ingrained in nearly everything we do, and with social media sites growing in popularity, most users seem to be more than willing to share their personal and private information online. While sharing “too much information” online can do damage to your personal reputation, it can also open the door to identity theft and other risks, which highlight the need to secure your online information.
Here are three things you can do to help secure the personal data you share online.
1. Realize your online actions are risky
Read any tech related blog, or even syndicated news articles, and it’s not hard to see that identity theft and cybercrime in general is not only serious, but on the rise. Sharing your information online is risky. As with any plan, the first step is realizing that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. The first step is to educate yourself about online security, and what steps you can take.
For example, here’s a recent article about how different age groups react to Facebook changes, and if they take steps to minimize who can view their personal data. It’s kind of interesting to see that the younger generations take more steps to secure their profiles than their parents, yet you still see people with reputation-damaging pictures that can be viewed by anyone.
2. Take matters into your own hands
There are further actions you can take to minimize any dangers:
- Don’t rely on websites to keep you secure – Websites like Facebook are companies. They exist to make money. How do they do it? Often by selling personal information you have given them. That’s not saying site owners don’t look out for their customers’ best interests – many do. But users need to dig deeply in their profile and privacy settings on these sites and ensure their information is satisfactorily secure.
- Provide the least amount of information possible – Think about the last time you joined a social network, or mailing list. You likely were asked to provide your name, address, birthday, etc. Did you know that you don’t have to provide all the information requested? Most sites only require your name and birthday, the rest is optional – usually used to provide better service or targeted ads. Many sites will put an asterisk beside required information to let you know which items you absolutely have to share.
- Think twice before signing up – It’s a good idea when signing up for a new account to think twice. Do you really need this account? Or can you get by without it?
- Use separate email accounts and passwords – Setting up different email accounts is a good idea. One should be for personal use, so the address is given only to people you know. Another could be for all of your online accounts, with a final one strictly for password recovery. It would be best to make the addresses are as different as possible. Beyond that you should have separate passwords for each account and every service. This will limit hackers from being able to gain access to multiple accounts.
- Secure your browsing – Almost every website that asks users to sign up for accounts offers a secure version of the site. Enter https://www. before the site address, e.g., https://www.facebook.com. https is a secure communications protocol that ensures one is communicating directly with the website – you’re actually looking at Facebook, not a phishing site designed to steal passwords.
3. Encourage others to think
It’s not enough to just take action yourself. Encourage colleagues, friends and family to take steps to protect their online information and identities. There are many great ways to help spread the word about safety, including the National Cyber Security website, which has information on Internet related security. Check it out, and share it!
If you would like to learn about how we can help you keep your information and data safe online, please contact us today for a comprehensive solution!