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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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Did You Know… Even If You Keep Your Online Information Safe, Others Won’t?

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There has been plenty written about what you need to do in order to protect yourself and your identity online. But even if you take proper (or what you believe to be proper) safeguards, does that mean you’re safe from online problems? No.

Personal or sensitive information may be leaked onto the internet even with proper safeguards and often without your knowledge.

Just recently, the details of 100 million Facebook users were published online. According to an MSNBC report, privacy experts were concerned that Facebook users did not understand the privacy settings. Even Facebook users who restricted access to their profiles had their name and photographs disclosed and included in the database.

The expert said, "Facebook should have anticipated this attack and put measures in place to prevent it. It is inconceivable that a firm with hundreds of engineers couldn’t have imagined a trawl of this magnitude and there’s an argument to be heard that Facebook have acted with negligence."

Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice has written previously on this topic:

Scott’s first post talked about the problem of controlling your online reputation. The short summary is, you can’t. However, Scott offers this simple solution:

The best solution, however, is also the easiest and the cheapest. Stop posting stupid and harmful crap for fun. Thank before you hit "enter". Both for yourself and others, but especially for others as they don’t deserve to suffer the consequences of your brain fart.

Scott’s second post deals with the problem of publicly available information from the government and other sources.

While you calmly vet your online information to protect yourself, various tentacles of the government are busy mindlessly posting your personal information on the internet. How personal? Like your social security number, in tandem with other identifying data that is commonly used to access your financial and personal records.

I suggest you read Scott’s posts — they are eye opening (and scary).

In the meantime, you can do the following to try and minimize your exposure:

  • Familiarize yourself with computer and online privacy settings.
  • Do not send money to a foreign prince. He will not send it back. Just as in real life, online offers that seem too good to be true usually are.
  • Don’t respond to span emails. Don’t respond in any way. When you click to "unsubscribe" to the spam email, this only confirms your existence to the spammer and makes you a more valuable target.
  • You did not win a free prize. This is a common spamming technique used by companies to gather your information.
  • Use complex passwords to access sensitive information.
  • Utilize antivirus, antispam and spyware blocking software.
  • Do not open strange looking attachments or attachments from people you do not know.
  • Monitor your children’s online activity.
  • Don’t post status updates that compromise your security. Status updates announcing your upcoming vacation, your forthcoming night on the town, etc. only broadcast to others that your home is empty and your belongings are there for the taking. Wait to post on your activity until after you’re home.

More resources for online safety: