Protecting yourself online

I sometimes look at my friends on social media and wonder how they haven’t had more problems before.  I look at their profiles and they share so much stuff that it boggles the mind.

If you ever do a search on yourself you will be amazed at what you find with even the most lazy search.  I’ve found lists of my old addresses, phone numbers, possible relatives, even the value of my house.  That’s just for basic information.  Who knows what is out there available for a small fee!

Add to that the fact that people will post all sorts of private details online and accept friend requests from anyone and I just can’t believe that people live like this.

So some basic tips for staying safe online.

1.  User names.  Unless absolutely necessary never use your full name for usernames or email addresses.  You’ve no clue how useful that is to hackers and various other online predators.  Use abbreviations of your name, use pseudonyms.  Never use partial numbers from your social security number or drivers license or address in your username or address.

2. Restrict access.  All social media now has privacy features.  Use these features.  Don’t let just anyone peruse all your details.  Even persons close to you don’t need to know everything.

3. Cleanup.  Maybe you have an ancient account that you never use, maybe a photo or article from some event held ten years ago lists your birth date or address or some bit of personal information.  Go online and do a deep search.  Not just on one search engine but several.  Delete those old accounts if you don’t need them anymore.  Try to remember old emails too and delete them as well.  Most websites will gladly edit out details on old articles for you if you ask.  Sure it takes time but it would take more time to clean up the mess that a hacker could create from impersonating you.

4.  Catfishing.  Someone will contact you and pretend that they know an old friend.  Then they hit you up for a loan or to go into business with them or worse.  Follow up this reference with that supposed mutual friend.  Ask for other details.  If they really are a friend of a friend then they shouldn’t mind a few questions.

5.  Live offline more.  Online sites are great for connecting with other people but they shouldn’t be the be all end all of your life.  Connect online but live offline.

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