Our privacy risks increase, as we are encouraged to provide more and more information online. Identity theft and fraud are some of the more serious consequences of over-sharing, yet most people do little to protect their personal information online. In fact, nearly 13 million people are accepting friend requests from strangers, particularly of the opposite sex, according to a survey by Harris Interactive in 2011.
Most recognize that no one should ever share Social Security and driver’s license numbers, but there is other, less obvious, information that can be used against you in malicious ways. Exposing the following information increases your security risk:
- Full name (in particular your middle name)
- Date of Birth
- Phone Numbers
- Relationship status
- School Location/Graduation Date
- Pet names (popular security questions for password recovery!)
- Travel/Vacation information
With the serious consequences of “over-sharing” in mind, we put together a Top 10 ways to protect your online privacy:
- Review the privacy and security policies of any third party apps (e.g. Farmville).
- Don’t offer up sensitive or personal information (see previous list).
- Only invite people you know to join your social networks.
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
- Set privacy settings to only allow friends to see your content.
- Never open links from someone you don’t know.
- Create unique passwords and user names for all social media accounts.
- Make sure you log out of public computers completely.
- Use a social media monitoring service like Reppler to help you identify potential security risks.
- Google yourself regularly to see what kind of information people can find about you.
Some of these tips may seem obvious, but a lot of people continue to use social networks with little concern for potential dangers. And if these don’t seem like enough, and you want to take additional steps to protect your identity, we recommend signing up for identity protection service from TrustedID to help you monitor all of your personal information.