Privacy: 8 New Year’s Resolutions for Protecting Your Privacy Online
Happy New Year!
With 2011 off to a great start, we thought now would be the perfect time for a refresher course about basic online privacy protection. In fact, this would serve as a wonderful opportunity for parents to sit down with their children to review how we can all stay safe online. To jumpstart that conversation, here is a quick go-to list:
1. Change your account passwords. Creating new, effective passwords for all of your accounts can prevent you from identity theft. Mnemonics based on personal information work best and are difficult for hackers to crack, but even the best passwords should be changed approximately every 3 months. Keep in mind that you should never share your password with anyone.
2. Verify and modify your friends list. If you are online friends with somebody that you actually don’t’ know very well, consider deleting them. Remember, privacy organization Truste recently found that 42% of teens accept friend requests from strangers on social networks.
3. Check your privacy settings. Many social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace made multiple changes to their privacy policies during 2010 and if you haven’t maintained your settings, they may have been moved to the site’s default settings. Take the time now to review them on every social networking site you use and make changes where necessary.
4. Google yourself. This is the first thing people will do when they want to find dirt on you, so stay ahead of the game and learn what’s out there. If you find any suspicious, inappropriate or unauthorized content, report it to the site’s administrator immediately.
5. Review the dangers of oversharing. Mentioning your full name, school name, address, age, birth date, or telephone number online is a definite no-no. This goes for content on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and personal blogs too. Avoid posting photographs that reveal identifiable information such as your school’s name, and absolutely never use your real full name within your username.
6. Disable geotagging on devices. Smart phones often automatically store metadata within any photograph you take and reveal your exact location. Uploading photographs from a smart phone to a social networking site or photo sharing site (like Flickr) discloses you or your child’s whereabouts to just about any interested party. Note that Twitter also has a geo-tagging feature that is set “off” as default, but might currently be turned “on.”
7. What about Foursquare? Find out if your child has signed up for the popular GPS-based game in which users “check in” to various locations throughout their city via a cell phone app. It may sound like fun, but like geotagging, sites like Foursquare can jeopardize your child’s safety by divulging their location.
8. Review e-commerce safety tips. Your teen may have their own credit card or debit card, so it’s important they know how to stay safe when shopping online. Educate him or her about legitimate e-business seals (like BBB, Verisign or Truste) and the significance of a plural url (https instead of http).
Tagged as: blog, cell phones, Facebook Safety, identity theft, information sharing, Internet Safety, internet safety for kids, Mobile, MySpace, Online Hackers, Photo Sharing Safety, Privacy Online, social networking safety, Twitter