How to protect your privacy online


1st Jan 2015 Technology

How to protect your privacy online

In the modern world, we access everything online, whether it's on our laptops or smartphones. But with all this connectivity, how do we protect privacy online?

Social networking, emails and internet banking mean that a lot of our personal information is stored online. However, most people don't think about this and often it can be easy for someone to get access to almost every aspect of our lives. Here are some ways that you can protect your privacy online.


Disable GPS on your mobile phone

Many people don’t even realise that the GPS on their phone is transmitting all of the time - whenever the phone is switched on, actually. If you don't switch GPS off, then a number of apps and websites are privy to your location. If you are sending texts or messages, people may be able to see your exact address, simply because your GPS is transmitting at the time. Only switch your GPS on when you actually need to use it.


Don’t display your date of birth

Your date of birth may not seem like something that anyone could use without various other information about you, but it is actually a key piece of information which many companies will use for verification that they are speaking to you. If someone is on your Facebook and has access to your full name and date of birth, this may give them all they need to access certain accounts in your name. Never use your own date of birth as a password or a PIN code.


Lock up your privacy settings

If you have Facebook then you may want to check over your privacy settings to see exactly what you are sharing with the world. With Facebook, not everything is automatically set to be viewed by just friends, so you have to go through manually and change your privacy settings. This means that only people you have added as friends can see. Otherwise, a status you write containing personal information may be seen by complete strangers as well as the people you choose to see it. The same goes for photos and videos.


Keep your work and social life separate

Don’t add your boss or colleagues on social networking accounts and don't invite personal acquaintances to be friends on work accounts. If you mix work and pleasure then you do risk having information shared among the wrong people, and this could risk your job and your reputation.


Don’t add people you don’t know

Again with Facebook, and even with Instagram and Twitter, it is useful for you to lock your account and only let people view your page if you have accepted them as a friend or a follower. You can then decide who you actually want to see the things that you are posting online. With this as a rule, try never to add people on Facebook that you don’t know, or you risk sharing information with hackers or people who may otherwise be looking to cause you problems. Don't add another person simply because you share lots of mutual friends.

For a handy guide to protecting privacy, The Ask Leo! Guide to Online Privacy is available on amazon.

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