Are you a fan of networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Orkut etc.? While you enjoy interacting and sharing information with people across the world, make sure you are safe in the virtual world.
Here's how you can protect your personal information as well as privacy of your family and friends when you are hooked to these 'social' sites.
Set your privacy controls to restrict public access
Make sure your privacy levels are set so that only your friends and family can see anything that is private. Some sites let you segment your contacts or friends list so you can control what co-workers, family, or your buddies are allowed to see.
Don't include identifying information
Keep personal details private, such as your phone number, address, place of work, or your birthday. Don't even share the state where you born since this can be used to obtain your social security number. Even with your privacy controls set, err on the safe side and don't post information that could enable someone to steal your identity or stalk you.
Respect the privacy of friends and family
Avoid identifying people by name in public profiles and pictures. And ask your friends not to identify you in their photos or post pictures of you that are available to the public.
Be wary of phishing attempts
Sophisticated cyber criminals are taking advantage of the popularity of social networking sites. It can be hard to tell if an e-mail supposedly from a social networking site you belong to is an attempt to steal your login information. So to be safe, never click on a link from an e-mail that looks like it came from a social networking site- type in the site's URL manually.
Don't put your entire work history online
A full history of everywhere you've ever worked can help an identity thief fill out a loan application. So on sites like LinkedIn, limit your work history details and/or restrict access to your information to just those in your network.
Beware of scams
Scammers can gain access to one of your friend's accounts (through a phishing attempt for instance) and then solicit all the friends linked to the account for money. Never respond with a credit card number or online payment, even if it looks like it is from a friend. Call your friend and ask if it's a legitimate request.
Be careful about giving about your location
With Twitter and similar tools, you may be broadcasting to lurkers, stalkers, and thieves where you are and how long you'll be there. Just as you wouldn't put a note on your door saying you're out of town, be mindful of disclosing similar information online.
Choose your password carefully
Make it at least eight characters and include a number and a symbol in it. This way it's very difficult for someone to guess your password and hijack your account.