Today, we conduct much of our lives on the internet and on our connected devices, and enormous amounts of personal information is collected and shared. This data can be stored indefinitely, and our personal information can be used in both beneficial and unwelcome ways.
Here are some tips on how YOU can keep your personal information secure online:
- Protect your passwords
Keep your passwords safe and secure. Do not share them with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, etc. Do not write them down where anyone can find them. Don’t use something that can be easily guessed (like a pet name, your sports team uniform name and number, type of car you drive, the year you were born, or something about you that someone could guess). If you think someone might know your password or notice anything unusual about your accounts, change your password right away.
- Don’t share personal information on social media
Always check to make sure your online accounts are not set to “public” – reserve the information to only those you wish to share it with. Never post when you and your family are away so people know your physical location – or that your home may be empty. Be mindful when filling out marketing information for free merchandise or shipping offers. Many companies sell your data to other companies and create an online footprint for you, without you even knowing. Parents of young children should have frequent discussions about personal and family privacy and sharing on the internet.
- Private data can become public
Anything you post on the internet last FOREVER. No matter how secure your accounts may be, there is no such thing as a perfectly private social media account. Despite privacy settings, there is always a chance that pictures and posts to Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and others could be seen by anyone (ex: a screen capture). Anything you post could live on the internet for eternity! Even deleting items from social media doesn’t mean they are gone forever.
- Phishing is everywhere!
If you receive a text from a number you don’t recognize or an email from an account you don’t know, don’t respond. Ask the person from another means if the original message was legit. Impersonating someone you know is a form of phishing and happens every day. Never give personal information about yourself to anyone who you can’t identify as being legitimate. When in doubt, delete it out.
- If you are unsure about something, ask an adult you trust first
It is always best to get advice or a second opinion before posting/sharing information that you are unsure whether you should or not. Ask a parent or guardian, your teacher, or an adult you trust for advice. You never want to regret the consequences of hitting that “enter” or “post” button, if it’s something you are unsure about.