These days, the internet can seem like a dangerous place, especially if you’re a little new to the territory, but don’t worry; there are plenty of steps that you can take to minimise risk when you’re online.
A strong password is the first line of defence against a potential threat. Make sure that it is complex, not something easy to guess (eg. your name or something you’re interested in), and is a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation.
Choose your email carefully
It is a good idea to have separate email accounts – one for social media accounts and one for professional use. For your personal email, why not try using a nickname for yourself or another alias as this will make your identity less obvious to hackers.
Increase your privacy settings
Your social media accounts have privacy settings that you can access. It is a good idea to increase these so that you have the maximum security. This way, information is only revealed to those you choose it to be, rather than it being made public.
Just like the real world, you shouldn’t connect with anyone that you don’t know or trust. Just because someone claims to be someone online doesn’t mean that’s who they are – you don’t know who is behind the screen or why they are trying to talk to you.
Check for secure webpages
Make sure that anytime you are entering sensitive information, such as logging into an account or buying something online, that the webpage has https (rather than http – the ‘s’ stands for secure) at the start as well as a padlock icon. This is your guarantee that the website is genuine, and it is safe to input your details. Make sure that the padlock appears inside the address bar and not on the webpage alone.
Be careful what you share
Think carefully about what information you are putting out online. If you wouldn’t tell it to a stranger or to your boss, it is best not to put it online. Don’t reveal information such as your address and date of birth, and definitely not your bank details. Don’t say that you’re going on holiday or that you’re going to be out of your home between a certain time as this can advertise your house to burglars.
On a similar note, but less for security reasons, your online presence can have an impact on your employability. Most employers will google potential employees before hiring them, and if your profile is unprofessional or offensive this can massively affect your chance of getting work.
Photos can be just as dangerous
Be careful with what images you choose to put online. Once they are out there, it is very difficult to control where they can end up. If someone downloads an image before you have deleted it, there isn’t much you can do about it. Be sure that you are happy for anyone to see that image before you put it online.