Being safe from Identity and personal data theft.
1- The most important thing and the most common sense thing to do is to not put up any private info, including your full name, date of birth, or even address on any public forum.
2- Never give any of your bank information or credit card/debit card information to anyone who claims to be calling from the bank or from the credit card company. This can also happen if you get a call from one of your currently subscribed magazines, etc. If you want to renew the subscription, do it from the website itself, by typing the address in the address bar, never do it over the phone.
3- Never post any of your private pictures or family photos, photos of your home online or in a cloud storage, they can and have been easily hacked. (Example is the leaked celebrity pics scandal). Store them offline and off computer.
4- If you have any passwords written down, always store that file offline and off computer, store it in a usb drive and connect the usb only when you’re offline and encrypt the usb storage with strong password. There are softwares available that help you create strong passwords.
5- Never give out your primary email. Always use a secondary email with not much information in it (like your name, address, location, etc, while signing up), to sign up to websites, etc. It’s called a dummy account. This can also help with avoiding spam emails in your main email inbox.
6- Always make sure to check the validity of the secure encryption certificate on websites, while making any transactions online. Usually if you have an anti-virus installed, it warns you of fake pages.
7- Always password protect your data with a strong password that contains letters, numbers and symbols.
8- Install a strong anti-virus that gives you protection from the latest threats and protects your offline data as well.
9- Never check your emails in a cyber café.
10- If you use Wi-Fi, make sure the connection is secure and password protected.
These are some simple tips to protect your data and online identity.
Moving on to Facebook safety tips.
There are many things you can do to keep yourself safe from potential threats and cyber criminals on facebook.
1- The most important thing to do is to never make any personal photos public, especially of your kids wearing any swimming clothes. Your photos be used by predators to sell them to certain kinds of websites and are also sold to highest bidders. They can also use these photos to estimate and track your location, if you don‘t already have it mentioned on the profile.
2- Don’t make your day-to-day activities public and avoid posting updates about when and where you are traveling. If you do want to post them, make it private or for friends only, but that may not work, as if you add someone, they can now view your activities and jobs, etc. getting all they wanted from your profile.
3- Which brings me to my third point, never accept friend requests from individuals who you don’t know or haven’t spoken to. Especially avoid individuals with no profile pics or only a handful of friends when they’ve been members for years. Some of the fake profiles usually just spam search. It’s done by typing in the most common names, when the results show up, they send friend requests to all. Then when their request gets accepted by target, they get to their friends list as well and most accept requests due to them being mutual friends with someone they know and trust. Plus, there’s also a possibility of a sex offender or a PI creating a fake profile to see your ‘friends only’ posts.
4- Never post personal likes and dislikes as this can be used against you. Once an individual knows what you like and don’t like, whether it’s food or a movie or anything, they can use that data to either direct you to a phishing website if they’re a cyber predator or if they’re a predator who searches their victims online, they can strike up a conversation with you basing it on common grounds.
5- Don’t use the same password you did for you email and other accounts, for your face book account. In fact, never have the same password for all accounts as a general rule.
6- If you access facebook on your phone, log out of the facebook app you use, after each visit.
7- Post nothing on facebook that you wouldn’t want anyone to know about. Nothing, once it gets on the internet, is safe or private, especially on a social networking site like facebook.
8- Be sure to have a good anti-virus installed. There is a possibility of a virus infecting your email list, the virus then sends friend requests to everyone in your email contacts, infecting them with the same virus as well. IIRC, this is done to gain access to not only your personal email, but other email addresses as well, it also leads you to a fake site to get your personal information that you may enter in the form.
9- Report suspicious profiles.
10- Be careful of external and third-party applications and websites asking permission to access your facebook account information. Once you have given the permission to access your facebook account, the website or application now has access to all of your personal information, including email, number, posts, address, job and location. Never accept it, unless you are absolutely 100% sure that you trust the application and it is reputed as safe to use.
11- Visit the help center for more information on facebook safety.
12- Some good tips are mentioned here in this info graphic; http://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/pdf/facebook_safety_tips.pdf
Next Part is Safety on Twitter
The following are some simple tips to stay safe on twitter.
1- Whenever you tweet, never add your location to it. Turn off the ‘add location to tweet’ option from the settings. You can also remove all location information by clicking ‘delete all location information’.
2- Strip geo-tag information from your photos before tweeting them. When a photo is tweeted, the location information that many camera phones add to the metadata of the photo file would be provided to anyone viewing the photo, any EXIF viewer software/application that can read the location information embedded in the photo would be able to determine the location of the picture. There are apps available that strip the geo-tag from the pictures; deGeo, metapho and pixelgarde are some of them.
3- Enable security and privacy options. The ‘HTTPS Only’ option ‘Settings’ menu will allow you to use Twitter over an encrypted connection which will help protect your login information from being hijacked by hackers using packet sniffers and hacking tools.
4- Twitter is actually more public than facebook, which means that you have to keep your personal information very minimal to virtually none. I.e. No phone numbers, no emails and no address in the location section.
5- Avoid using any third party apps on twitter. If you have any unrecognized app or an app you don’t remember installing, remove it by revoking its access to your account information from the app tab in your ‘settings’ menu.
6- Turn on the ‘protect my tweets’ option. This is a helpful tool when it comes to preventing unwanted individuals from following you on twitter. Once turned on, it will only show the tweets to people that are approved by you. This will not stop the current followers, it’s only for the future ones.
7- Remove unwanted or unknown followers. Delete the follower from your Followers list by blocking their account. The user is not notified when you block them, but your tweets no longer show up in their searches or timeline.
Here are some good sites with much more information about safety on twitter.
Safety Tips on Instagram
2- Just like twitter’s geo-tagging, do not tag the location in the images you post on instagram. Especially if you’re on a vacation or something and wanna share the moments.
3- Which brings me to my next point, if you post regularly while going to your regular places, and you add locations to those pics, you are basically putting up your schedule on the net for everyone to see. Now anyone can see where you are at what time, especially if your profile is public.
4- If you are linking your instagram account to facebook or twitter, make sure the privacy settings on the linked account is private as well, otherwise all your private photos will be posted to facebook and twitter as public.
5- This point relates to the above, make your instagram account private, I.e. only visible to those who you give permission to.
6- Be careful of the spam links on your account.
I do not have an instagram account, so I don’t have much knowledge besides what I wrote, here’s a link to help you understand it better. http://sociallyactive.com/instagram-and-kids-a-parents-guide/
Safety Tips for emailing
These are very simple tips. Most of them you might be aware of already.
1- Most common one is to never open an email from someone you don’t know/recognize.
2- Never open spam emails or reply to them. Use a spam filter.
3- Never download or open an attachment, if it is from someone you know, do not open it without scanning it first. For me, Norton is useful for that. Auto-protect does the job.
4- Never send any sensitive information or confidential information over email.
5- Always log out from the account and delete the form data and history.
6- Avoid clicking on the ‘remember me’ option when you log in.
7- Change your password fairly regularly and make it a long and strong password with letters, numbers and symbols.
8- Never give your emails to suspicious sites or shopping sites. Use an alternate disposable email address for that.
9- Avoid using your main email for social media accounts. They store it, if it’s hacked, the hacker now not only has your social media account information, but your email and all of the contacts in it as well.
10- Use different emails for different social media accounts.
11- Never use the same or similar passwords for any two accounts. Password should be unique to each account.
12- Be careful of the phishing scams. Never give your password if asked for, never click on a link that leads to a website directly from your email message, type the main address of the site in the address bar instead, but only after checking its safety rating, there are sites that provide that information.
13- Never check email on a public connection.
14- Never check email on a public computer and if you do, don‘t forget to log out, clear the form data and cookies. Be in a habit of clearing your history, cookies and form information.
Some additional good tips here. http://itservices.tri-c.edu/announcements/email-safety.html
Safety tips to secure your wireless connection
Without going into too much technical details, I’ll make this category simple and direct to the point as if I did go into details, you‘ll have to spend a whole day on the internet googling the terms. So to begin;
1- Turn on WPA2 Encryption on Your Wireless Router. If you have an older router, it will have an older encryption which is easily hackable. You’ll need to upgrade your firmware to WPA2.
2- Use the most unique and uncommon name for your network. If it’s one of the common names, you will be on the list with the most common names and will be more susceptible to your password being cracked. According to some sources, even WPA2 may be vulnerable to this kind of hacking.
3- This connects to the above point. Use a long and unusual password for your wireless network. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack using the rainbow tables. The max password limit is 64 characters, so go crazy. Wi-fi devices usually store the password as cache, you will have to do this only once, when you connect a new device.
4- Turn off the admin via wireless option. What this will do is restrict the hacker’s access to your wireless router’s administrative settings.
5- Enable firewall (If your router has it built-in, most do).
6- If you are in a smaller house, but the range of the wireless connection is high, reduce it. Decrease the signal range or hide it in a box or in any enclosure that could restrict the signal direction.
7- Be careful of something called piggybacking. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piggybacking_(Internet_access)
Remember, nothing is ever truly private once it’s on the internet, despite the profiles being private, they have been hacked and private photos have been leaked. Especially the data on cloud servers. Having a strong password helps, but only so much. Avoid storing any personal information or photos, videos, etc. or anything else you wouldn’t want a stranger to see, offline on a secure usb, scan it every time you plug it in and never plug it in while you‘re connected to the internet.
A little note – If this article sounded too robotic, it’s due to the detailed subject matter. I had to limit the use of words to make it short, yet informative as possible. This subject is often over-looked when it comes to safety and I had to make sure things weren‘t missed. So I hope you found it useful.
That’s it. Thanks for reading.