4 December 2013

Online security: Are you really safe?

Social networking sites have boomed in popularity in recent years; bringing friends and family together from across the world, allowing people to share pictures and conversations completely free. Unfortunately, with the boom in social networking, a rise of stolen information has also risen.

In terms of the internet, social networking is still in its infancy. With new people signing up on a daily basis, the number of Facebook users in 2012 alone was 1.1 billion, with millions more now on the site – I wonder how many users they have to date. It’s sad to say that despite social media’s many users, most people still don’t have the optimal online safety knowledge or netiquette as it’s now termed, but there are a few rules everyone should be following to ensure they stay safe online.

Check out the fine print

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It’s too easy to ignore the fine print when signing up to a service in order to get online quickly, but in doing so you could be agreeing to terms and conditions that don’t necessarily sit well with you. I don’t know if anyone remember the change that Instagram wanted to add to their policy update earlier this year where they were trying to claim unlimited rights to publish and use user photos in ads. Thankfully, there was uproar and nothing came of it, but it goes to show just how important the fine prints are. It’s especially important for bloggers, as we are essentially our own publishers and share so much unique material on our blogs and on social media. I surely wouldn’t like to see a photo of myself or worse yet one of my kids in an ad without my express and explicit say so. So, when you’re signing up to social media sites going forward, it’s extremely important to ask ourselves if this platform is one I can trust with all the material that bloggers inherently share, you want one that’s going to treat your stuff with sensitivity!

Taking the time to sit and read through terms and conditions will save you a huge amount of potential hassle in the long run and will ensure that you’re not agreeing to something you don’t want your personal information involved in.

I don’t even want to speculate on what they’re going to try to update in the near future. 

Think twice before you post

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It goes without saying how important it is to consider all the possible results to posting information on social media and online in general before you click the irretrievable ‘send’. Regardless of whether you subsequently delete it, the immediacy of Facebook or Twitter dictates that it will have been seen already. While your distant relatives may see an image as nothing but a friendly update, others may take information from the image to gather information about yourself or your children.

I don’t think a lot of people think about this, but if you’re on android and have ever navigated anywhere with it, it’ll actually have saved one of the locations frequently navigated to or from as “home”. Others might even have “Location reporting” without even knowing it – which I’ve not quite figured out what means yet, as I’ve been very careful not to turn it on. Curiosity wants an answer though..

Further on from this, I’m sure loads of parents took snaps of their kids all dressed up in their school garb this year, to show how proud they were that their little ones had reached such an important milestone in their lives. I don’t think anyone actually stopped and thought, wait let me blur out his or her school crest, as it could be used to identify the school they attend, worse yet it you took it outside of their school with a sign of a school in the background. 

Likewise, if you’re open about where you live and post pictures of expensive products in your house, it’s signifying to thieves that you have items of value…the ideal target some would say. 

One of the most important things to never post online is information about going away and leaving your house empty. You may think you can trust everyone on your social network, but this might not be the case!

It’s all too scary to take in to be honest, as you can’t exactly predict the actions of the man in the street; what he will and will not do is entirely in his hands. You know what they say; do not assume as it makes a fool out of ‘u’ and ‘me’, but to live in eternal sunshine with a spotless mind would be equally daft. 

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  1. Someone got my debit card details from an online purchase, and tried to book a holiday using my account. Luckily my bank thought it suspicious and contacted me. I was lucky money didn't disappear from my account.

  2. Glad I have google as my isp provider, now a lot of the risky password grabbing e-mails all go in the spam box instantly. Of course it makes sense to ensure you always think about what you are putting online. Especially as some people recently have been posting risky tweets on twitter about legal mattters. It was amazing how many people would openly say someones name when it was actually nothing to do with them - chinese whispers x 1000

  3. I bank with a bank that queries everything you buy online. Its a bit of a pain but I know my money is safe.

  4. I do worry about this kind of thing and run regular virus and malware checks to ensure nobody is spying on me!

  5. Definitely something to think about. We do try to not be too open about our lives online but sometimes we can share without even thinking.

  6. Definately something to think about! Always wise to check what you are agreeing to, thankyou .

  7. I generally don't post pictures of my kids on social networking sites but it's good to think twice about what exactly is in the picture.