Protecting Your Online Privacy

by francine Hardaway on August 24, 2010

The remarkable growth of social networking has resulted in millions of people now using these social media services to share information with friends and as an alternative platform for private communications.

With an abundance of free tools like Facebook and Twitter, the barriers-to-entry in the social-media realm are so low that anyone can join. Social media is still a young and evolving field. Fundamental changes in communications technology and the way people use it require a clear set of rules to safeguard online privacy.

Recent stories about the increasing number of security breaches merits a review of a few simple guidelines that we’ve all heard before. Here’s just a few basic rules to remember:

Avoid using the same password for different systems that are important to you. Passwords are the key to your online account information.  Doing so puts you at risk should anyone discover this single password. For this reason, you are strongly advised to have a unique password for any services performed online.

When choosing a suitable password, you might consider the following:

  • Be different – Avoid using the same password for different services.
  • Don’t be personal – Do not be tempted to use passwords that can be easily guessed, e.g. children’s names, pets’ names, birth dates, telephone numbers.
  • Never write them down – We strongly recommend that you never write down or otherwise record your passwords. If, however, you feel that you have no alternative but to do so, you should ensure that you never write down or otherwise record your passwords in a way that can be understood by somebody else.
  • In any event, you should never disclose your Internet login details anywhere online except at your trusted and verified sites, such as an online banking website which should be accessed in the normal way and never via a link in an email.

Keep computer viruses and spyware out. There are hundreds of new viruses created every month. Some are relatively harmless, but most are designed to delete files, compromise your confidential information, or damage your operating system. Both PCs and Macs are vulnerable, and the latest generation of viruses can even spread without human intervention. The best Internet security step to stop them is installing the best antivirus software and update it regularly. Same applies to spyware.

Avoid downloading toolbars
(for example, the Google toolbar or Yahoo toolbar).  Toolbars may permit the collection of information about your web surfing habits.  Watch out that you do not inadvertently download a toolbar when downloading software, particularly free software.

Avoid using the same web site for both your web-based email and as your search engine.  Email accounts will always require some type of a login, so if you use the same site as your search engine, your searches can be connected to your email account.  By using different web sites for different needs — perhaps Yahoo for your email and Google for your searches — you can help limit the total amount of information retained by any one site.

The key to protecting your privacy is knowing how to protect your personal information. Participation in online culture is just like participation in any culture. It comes with responsibilities. Individuals who are concerned about their online privacy are required to learn how they share personal information online, and to take actions to protect personal information online.



This is a guide for nonprofits and community organizations

Posted via email from Not Really Stealthmode

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