How to protect yourself on the Internet

Everybody is getting on the internet…and with Social Media bringing us to new frontiers! Is it safe for our Children or for Parents?

Recently, I met up with some friends from Microsoft, and we had an enlightening discussion on the Internet and Social Networking.

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How many of us have used Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instant Messaging, chatrooms, filesharing networks and shopping websites? Are their problems using such websites?

Well, as the internet becomes increasingly intertwined with our daily routines, we tend to think less about sharing our personal information with a much broader group of people. The more dangerous thing is that the growing popularity of Smartphones, allows private information to be shared even faster!

These days, even taking a picture with a Kate Spade Bag can be dangerous! (Tin Pei Ling Incident) 🙂

The problem is that as we use the internet for surfing, gaming, socializing with friends, shopping and even banking, we inevitably share our personal information online. If you dig hard enough you will be able to find someone’s full name, I/C No, address, phone numbers, school name, birth date, photos of you, videos, credit card or bank account numbers, shopping habits, and any information about your life, likes and dislikes online!

As Grandmothers, Uncles and even 4yo kids have Facebook Accounts, it is time for us protect our family members and ourselves from being exploited!

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Here are 5 steps to protect yourself:

  1. Protect your accounts with strong, unique passwords. Never use the same password that you use for your email account. This reduces the chances of a hacker or even your friends logging in to your account without your permission. Have a different password for each social networking site so that if one password is stolen, not all of your accounts will be at risk.
  2. Never click on suspicious links-even if they appear to be from your friends. From secret peeks at pictures of Osama Bin Laden’s death, to tracking devices on who has been looking at your FB accounts, Please Ignore these links! These links have the potential to infect your accounts, so do ignore them!
  3. Think about the amount of personal information you share online. Do not post information that would make you or your family vulnerable (e.g. your date of birth, address, information about your daily routine or holiday plans). This information can be used by criminals to commit identity theft. While this may be impossible to avoid at times, be sure to adjust your privacy settings to control the amount and type of information you want to share, so that people you don’t know very well can only see certain parts of your profile.
  4. Think before you post. The photos, comments, messages and wall posts that you share could be seen by anyone, and are not always removable if you change your mind. This includes information in your profile, on blogs and other forums. People often forget that people other than their friends might see the information. Once information is online, it is not easy to remove it. Even if you remove the information from a site, saved or cached versions may still exist on other computers. Your “friends” could share your information with your boss, or even the media. Think about whether the information that you share now could harm you in 10 or 20 years’ time. Think Kate Spade!
  5. Be wary of strangers. People are not always who they say they are. It is a good idea to limit the number of people you accept as friends. If you are “friends” with people you do not know, be careful about the amount of information that you reveal and don’t agree to meet them in person. Use your social networking site’s privacy settings to limit their access to your information.

Last but not least, use the most up-to-date browser. Downloading the latest browsers, like Internet Explorer 8, ensures that you have the latest technology protecting you at all times.

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