Personal privacy has all but disappeared when you go online, but there are steps you can take to limit your exposure.
1. Keep your social media profile vague
The more information you share online, the easier it is for someone to get their hands on it. Limit the amount of information you provide on your social media profile. The people who need to know your birth date, email address, residential address and phone number will already have that information. If people you know intimately don’t have that information and you would like to share it, they can request it in a direct message. If you are leaving that information accessible to everyone you are leaving yourself open to the risk of identity theft.
2. Keep your social media settings private
Check your Facebook settings and make sure only friends can see what you’re doing. Go to the settings cog in the upper right hand corner of your screen, then click on Privacy Settings > Who can see my stuff. Think about all the things you post on social media, upcoming holidays, regular times you are away from your house, pictures of family members and friends. This is not the kind of information you want falling into the wrong hands.
3. Keep all your devices password-protected
You probably have passwords on your smartphones and digital tablets, but many people think that their laptops or desktops don’t need them. But desktop computers can be stolen and laptops can be lost. When it comes to your mobile devices, not only should you use a passcode to access them every time you use them, you should install an app that will locate your phone or tablet if it’s lost or stolen, as well as lock it or wipe it clean of any data so a stranger can’t access any of the data saved on it.
4. Turn on private browsing
The private browsing function on your internet browser doesn’t keep all of your information private. But if you don’t want anyone with physical access to your computer to see what you are doing online, then you should have it enabled. This will delete cookies, temporary internet files and browsing history after you close the window, stopping companies tracking the sites you visit and the purchases that you make.
5. Never provide your real date of birth
The only time you should provide your real date of birth is if you are on a site that already has that information on file and is checking for verification purposes. This may include Centrelink or your superannuation fund, for example. At no other times should you enter your real date of birth online. Many people enter 1 January in the year they were born for something that is easy to remember.
6. Beware free wifi
Avast Software, a Cybersecurity company in the US, undertook an experiment to highlight the security risk associated with free wifi networks. The company used Barcelona Airport for their experiment, creating a few different wifi networks, with names like “Starbucks”, “Airport_Free_Wifi_AENA”, and “MWC Free Wi-Fi”. Despite not knowing who was in control of those networks, over 2000 people logged on during the only four hours the wifi was available. The company was able to attain the user’s identity on most occasions. At the very minimum, make sure that any site you interact with uses HTTPS rather than unencrypted HTTP connections when you are using free wifi in public spaces.
Have you got any online security tips you would like to share?