ITRC Solution 14
Protecting Your Online Identity
The need to protect your identity online has become increasingly important with the growing number of social networking and blogging sites available. Personality profiles and blogging about personal experiences creates a public record of your personal information. Once it is posted – it is nearly impossible to take it back.
The ITRC suggests the following tips to protect your identity online:
- Use the highest level privacy settings that any site allows. Do not accept default settings.
- Read privacy and security policies closely – know what you’re getting into. Some major social networking sites actually say they will use or sell information about you (not individual data necessarily, but aggregate information based on your personal information and that of others using their site) in order to display advertising or other information they believe might be useful to you.
- Use the least amount of information necessary to register for and use the site. Be careful when picking a screen name – make sure it doesn’t provide clues to your “identity.”
- Create a strong password and change it often. A strong password should be more than 8 characters in length, and contain both capital letters and at least one numeric or other non- alphabetical character. Use of non-dictionary words is also advised. Do not share your password with others.
- Be wise about what you post. Never post personal information such as your address, phone numbers, e-mail address, driver’s license number, Social Security Number (SSN), birth date, birth place, school’s name, or student ID number. When blogging, do not disclose your location for any given day or the exact location for an event you are going to attend.
- Be careful when posting photos. Make sure they do not provide clues – such as where you live, work or go to school. Also, do not post photos depicting negative behaviors – including drinking, provocative poses or illegal activities. While you may attempt to delete the photo at a later time, it will continue to exist in the cyber world.
- Only connect to people you already know and trust. Don’t put too much out there – even those you know could use your information in a way you didn’t intend.
- Verify emails and links in emails you supposedly get from your social networking site. These are often designed to gain access to your user name, password, and ultimately your personal information.
- Install a firewall, reputable anti-spam and anti-virus software to protect your information-- and keep it updated.
ITRC Fact Sheet FS 127 - Blog Sense
ITRC Fact Sheet FS 138 - Social Networking and Identity Theft