- Internet & the Web
Keep It To Yourself: Information You Should Never Post Online
Password: a secret word or combination of characters used to authenticate user identity or to gain approval to access a resource. Although most of us out there understand the need and reason for having passwords, that thought somehow gets lost when it comes to sharing personal information online. From the use of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) to protect our bank cards to passwords to access our personal computers, there seems to be a login/password combination to protect our most confidential information.
Why is it then that people fail to comprehend the concept of internet privacy. If you've been on social media websites, you've undoubtedly learned things about people you'd never thought about previously... It's not important for me to know that you've been stuck in the bathroom all morning.
On the flip side, I find myself intrigued to read some of the posts and personal stories that you find on these sites as well. Some situations are either interesting or funny enough that I want to see what others have said about the posts as well. It's also a nice way to catch up with some people you haven't seen in awhile and a great way to “see” families and friends through posted pictures. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't see how much important information they're giving away through seemingly benign posts.
What seems like common sense to others is not the case with some. Let's take a look at some of the information that should never be posted online, or at least be posted with some discretion.
Maybe it's because I'm the wife of a police officer, but I think the online check-ins are a flashing neon sign telling anyone who can see that “yes, my house if uninhabited at the moment. Come on over and take what you can!” It's exciting to go on vacation and be away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but when you live, say, on the East Coast, and are posting electronic check-ins to your social media page about the dinner you're having in Vegas, people are going to notice. Online predators are not just interested in adolescents, and I think people forget that.
ADDRESS AND/OR PHONE NUMBER
Common sense dictates you wouldn't post this information for the world to see... doesn't it? Not as often as you might think. Rather than mail invitations to a party, it's so much easier to post the notice via social media. There it is, your home address posted for everyone to see. Let's take that a step farther and add a map with directions to the house. Oh my! It does get expensive to buy physical invitations and send them through the mail, but maybe a good alternative would be e-invites that are emailed directly to your invitees.
Along those same lines, posting about all your new high-end purchases can lead to disaster. Worse yet, posting pictures showing the set up of your house and where these things are located. While everyone trusts the majority of their close personal friends, not everyone uses discretion when allowing “friends” on their social media sites. If your profiles have public settings, it's often the friends-of-friends that are most worrisome.
Again, passwords are there to protect our information. Hackers are generally very smart individuals, everyone. One joke online about how you use the same password for everything or that you have to keep a notebook near your computer with all your login and password information, and you've just opened a door you'll have a very hard time shutting again.
PERSONAL VERSUS PROFESSIONAL SITES
In this era of technology, it is so important to realize that employers as well as current/potential customers can find you online. Using social media is a great way to promote your business, but it is imperative to keep your personal and work sites separate. Do you really want the owner of a company you've been trying to connect with reading posts about how you were late to work this morning after a crazy night out with friends? I didn't think so.
Be Proactive. Protection starts with you!
Internet protection relies heavily on the steps you take to protect yourself. Keep your personal profiles private and limit access to the people you know. So many people brag about the hundreds of “friends” they have on their social media sites. Remember, if you meet someone online, you only know what they let you know. Keep your family safe by not giving our too much information. Yes, pictures of your kids are adorable and we want to see them, but keep their personal information – like dates of birth – to yourself.
If you elect to hash out a problem or have an in-depth personal conversation with someone online, remember that everyone can see it. If you're going to say things you wouldn't say in front of the world, then don't type it. I'm reminded of the adage “when in doubt, leave it out”. Those six little words could save you a lot of headache and heartache later.