It's rare to run into someone who doesn't use social media these days -- it has become a vital part of our identities. Our virtual lives are so intertwined with our real lives, that they're almost indistinguishable. We may think our information is safe online because everyone is doing it, but it's important to know how revealing yourself online can make you more vulnerable to those trying to tamper with your identity. Here's a guide on how to clean up your virtual life before it gets compromised.
1. Don't use your real name.
If you're prompted to enter your name on a social media network or other website, you should never enter your real name if you don't have to. Use a nickname, or your last name's initial, rather than spelling it all out. Having access to your name will give hackers an easy time taking over your life.
2. Pick a different pic.
We know you want to litter your social media accounts with selfies, but remember, almost anyone can access your pictures with a simple google search. Google yourself and see what comes up. You can replace photos of yourself with photos of things you like, so as to leave a little mystery.
3. Put up the screen.
The privacy screen, we mean. Make sure your privacy settings are fully maximized to make sure creepers aren't seeing your personal information. On most of these sites, you can fix settings so that only your close friends can see certain information.
4. Location is a no-no.
Your phone may be tracking everywhere you go, and you may be letting it happen. But you should never reveal your location to people that could potentially access it online. You might want your friends to know you're having a wonderful time at Hamilton, but your friends are not the only ones seeing this information. Also be careful about posting photos of your home. Potential stalkers will have an easy time tracking you down. Also, if you're going away, don't shout it out to the world. This will just make you more vulnerable.
5. Tone it down.
If you're into political rants, have a lot of controversial opinions, or are posting iffy photos, you may want to tone it down. You never know who is looking. Also, look out for your friends. If you see something inappropriate on a friend's page, it will be in their best interest for you to speak up.
6. Beware of catfishers.
If you're into online dating, we'll advise that you be wary of meeting up with people too soon. It's hard to get the full picture of someone online, so if you do meet up, make sure it's in a public place during the day. And don't give out information about where you live or your cell phone number until you've established trust. Keep it to the app or website's messaging system.
7. Firewall your house.
Firewall will help keep the hackers out and protects your passwords and security. If you need to grant access to a program, only do so for programs you know.
8. Stay away from that public wifi.
We all love public wifi, but it's necessary to make sure we log onto the right one. If not, it could be hacker bait. Also, make sure your own wifi is encrypted.
9. What was that password again?
Set up a secure password system. We love LastPass as a way to keep it all safe. Never give away a password to someone you don't know.
Alright, Internet-users. We think you're ready to conquer the virtual world without revealing too much. Stay safe out there.