It is very easy for you to get comfortable with sharing things within your friend networks online. However, between public Wi-Fi networks and social media, you may not actually know just how much you could be sharing with a total stranger.
On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, your location updates could actually be a security concern, especially if you happen to be posting them from a coffee shop.
There is a major hazard with public Wi-Fi because all the information that you are transferring is actually available to everyone who is on that network. Others will be able to listen into your private conversations, find out your passwords, or even gain control of your online accounts.
Don’t send out sensitive information on a public Wi-Fi
If you wouldn’t want the whole world to know about what you are sharing, then don’t send it via a public Wi-Fi. Try to avoid accessing any financial information such as bank accounts, or sharing any personal details through email or social media. It is very easy for someone to intercept the information that you are transmitting from your computer when you happen to be on open Wi-Fi, which means that you are vulnerable to that data getting into the wrong hands.
Don’t connect to any strange Wi-Fi networks
If you are really unsure which Wi-Fi network is the one that is provided by your local café, don’t just connect to any hub that is open. Ask an employee or manager for the credentials of their network. It isn’t unheard of for a criminal to set up hotspots in busy areas.
Don’t share your phone number on the internet
Many people have finally wised up to this one, but you will still see Facebook posts that will pop up every once in a while that says “Hey, got a new number. XXX-XXX-XXXX!” This could prove dangerous for you phone. Even though it is the quickest way to get your number out there to people who may want it, it is also highly likely to be viewed by marketers.
If you have your contacts backed up on Google or iCloud, you can just send out a text message with your new number. Alternatively, you can just share a post stating that you got a new number, and if someone wants it, then they can PM you.
Don’t share vacation plans on social media
Sharing a status of your big trip to the park on Saturday may be a good idea if you are looking to have a big turnout of friends to join you, but not when it comes to home and personal safety. For starters, you have just broadcasted where you are going to be at a certain time, which can be pretty dangerous if you have a stalker or a crazy ex.
Secondly, you are telling the time when you won’t be home, which can make you vulnerable to being robbed.
This is also true if you are sharing selfies of yourself on the beach with a caption that states “The next 2 weeks are going to be awesome!” You have just basically told anyone who has the option to view your photo and even their friends that you are far away from home and for how long.
Don’t post everything to every social media network
You have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr all synced together so when you post an update on one network, it will post across all of them. Although you are being applauded for your social efficiency and diligence, that isn’t always the best thing to do. Each platform has evolved with its very own set of expectations and practices.
If you want to maximize your followers on a certain channel, then it is best to cater your posts to that platform. Shorten your link or message on Twitter, be sure to add plenty of hashtags that are relevant on Instagram, ensure that you are including a cool GIF on Tumblr, and so on. If everything is linked, then it is possible for a hacker to post to your other accounts if one social media account becomes compromised.
Don’t share your children’s photos with their real names
Adults are able to un-tag themselves from images that they don’t want to be identified in, but children don’t have that option. A lot of parents these days are referring to their children as a hashtag or a nickname which protects their identity without taking the fun out of sharing family photos.
This also has an added bonus of giving the child a clean slate when they are older and building their own web presence, instead of being able to Google their name and seeing hundreds of baby photos that their relatives posted in the past.
Don’t share any private, identifiable information on social media
It may be fun to talk about your pets with your friends on Instagram or Twitter, but if Fluffy is the answer to your security question, then you shouldn’t share that with the world. This may seem quite obvious, but sometimes you get wrapped up in an online conversation, and it is quite easy to let things slip out.
You may also want to keep quiet about your past home or current home locations or sharing anything that is very unique and identifiable. It could help someone fake your identity.
Don’t share any of your passwords
There are some situations where password-sharing is okay, such as HBO Go or Netflix passwords, but when it comes to email, banking, Twitter, or Facebook, there is no need to share your password.
Maybe you have meant it as a form of trust or maybe you needed your boyfriend to reply to an email for you. If your relationship hits the rocks, he has your password and can lock you out or message people on your behalf. If it is absolutely needed, set a reminder to change the password when you can.
Turn on two-factor authentication
Although it can be inconvenient, the two-factor authentication is the easiest and best way to keep your accounts from getting hacked. Whenever you log into an account from a new device, it will send an email or a text with a code that you input with your password.
These several online security tips are extremely important and should not be ignored. Don’t get complacent on the internet – just because you don’t see the threats, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.