This tweet above – from the parody twitter account, ‘made-up stats’ – really made me laugh! But behind the humour was the worrying news that 6 million LinkedIn passwords had been obtained by hackers. A few of the businesses I work with have asked me about online security, so I thought it might be useful to summarise a few simple steps you can take to minimise your risks.
- Don’t give any more information than is necessary or requested. When registering for a service, the required fields are usually indicated by an asterisk. Just fill out these fields only.
- Personal information is just that – personal. Respect the personal privacy of others by not posting their information such as their name, address, photo or phone number without their consent.
- Be aware of who is collecting, using or disclosing your information – just because you are on one site, doesn’t mean your personal information will be restricted to that site.
- Consider your password-recovery questions. Any information commonly used to recover a password should be kept private. This includes things like your mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name, your favourite books and films or the place you were born.
- Be careful about opening links from senders you don’t recognise. On Twitter, never open a link from someone you follow that says “I can’t believe what they’re saying about you here” or similar. It means their account has been hacked by spammers. If this happens to you, change your password at once.
- Consider changing you passwords on all of your social network sites regularly and don’t use the same password for every site.
- You don’t need to divulge personal information to communicate personal experience. Be general when appropriate (in forums or tweets) and detailed when necessary and safe (in a direct or private message).
- Carefully check your privacy settings and adjust the settings to protect your personal information. Social network sites often update privacy settings so get into the habit of regularly reviewing your profile.
These commonsense steps will help you get the most out of social media and protect you and your online reputation.