It has always been a concern of mine that giving my daughter unfiltered access to the internet could potentially expose her to harmful or inappropriate content. And now, with the proliferation of social networks and easy access to information, I worry that the access of personal information is becoming easier to target and misuse. Recently I noticed some odd activity through e-mail and Facebook that was cause for alarm.
In this screenshot you will see that I had received three e-mails from one particular person that contained nothing but a single link. The person that is shown as the sender is a friend from high school that I am connected to on Facebook. He has never e-mailed me prior to these which tells me his Facebook account was most likely the target of a hacking / phishing attempt.
Spammy Facebook Chat Messages
Within the same week of receiving the suspicious e-mails from a high school friend, I had also received the above chat message from a family member while logged in to Facebook. Fortunately, the bit.ly link acts as a gateway protecting you from the danger lurking on the other side.
How can I protect myself online using social networks?
Here are five important online safety tips everyone should be doing. As we become more adept to using social networks and online sharing, the more we must become aware of how to protect our personal information.
- Choose Strong Passwords
We all do it – create a single password that is easy to remember and use it everywhere. Now is the time to change your passwords. Don’t put it off until your account gets hacked. Mozilla has put together a great video on this.
- Change Your Privacy Settings on Facebook
Facebook is constantly evolving. I personally have enjoyed the changes that have taken place over the years. But, not everyone is receptive as I am. And, not everyone evaluates privacy changes as closely as I do. Take a close look at the privacy settings and make the changes that you care about the most. Watch this video about the current Facebook privacy settings.
- Don’t Use BitTorrent
It’s so tempting. HBO|GO isn’t available for your network and you need to watch Game of Thrones Season 1 before Season 2 begins. Or you want to download “FREE” kindle books. It’s not worth it. While BitTorrent has come a long way, the security of the files you are downloading can be questionable. Also, it is likely those “FREE” kindle books, movies, mp3s and other digital files you are downloading are diminishing the value of creative work. Don’t do it. It’s most likely illegal and potentially harming your computer and your privacy.
- Update Your Web Browser
Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer – all of these browsers come installed on various machines and devices. The makers of these browsers update them regularly. Most provide automatic updates which allow you to receive the current version as soon as it’s available. Visit browser-update.org to check your browser.
- Forward Responsibly
Did you know that funny e-mail you received from a co-worker was also sent to 20 other people you don’t know and it included your e-mail address in the e-mail itself? Did you know that those 20 people then forwarded that same e-mail to their network of friends, family and co-workers also including your e-mail address in the e-mail? Use BCC when forwarding e-mails. It’s the right thing to do. Or, don’t even forward the e-mail. The world will keep on turning and the kid will survive chemo. You won’t win that three-day trip to Mexico no matter how many friends you forward the e-mail to. Do you want more information about the dangers of forwarding e-mail? Check out hoax-slayer.com
Do you know of any online safety tips that I didn’t mention? Share them in the comments.