What do your childhood friends, family, colleagues, boss or your significant other all have in common? If you are one of the billions of people using social networks, there’s a good chance you are inadvertently linked through an online relationship. The information you share with your online contacts allows you to keep in touch without much effort, but the question is who else has access to your online identity that you’re not comfortable with?
Your online profile is essentially a personal website, much like your company's, that tells the world all about you. The problem is that some Internet users besides friends and acquaintances are interested in the information you post, from identity thieves and scam artists to stalkers or “trolls” - someone who takes pleasure in harassing others online or even via text - sometimes leading to cyber-bullying offline.
Don't post something on social media that you don't want to see on the front page of the newspaper - Gillian Shaw, Vancouver Sun
The three pillars of Paladin’s Social Media Policy are:
To protect yourself & your career, here are Paladin’s top 10 tips to stay safe both on- and off-line:
- Use strong, separate passwords for different accounts. Passwords must be at least 8 characters in length and contain at least 3 of these 5 character types: lower case, upper case, number, symbol and punctuation. Do not use the same passwords for your social media accounts as your corporate network log-in to avoid accounts being compromised. Be sure to change your passwords on a regular basis (suggested monthly). Do not share your passwords, either verbally, in writing or through electronic means. If you are asked to provide security questions, use information that others would not know about you >>> Top tips to create a secure password
- Provide only information that is necessary or that you feel comfortable providing. Restrict access to your birthday, age, place of birth address, phone number or email address as this information could be useful to identity thieves and data mining companies. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution. Remember, you can always provide more information, but you can’t always remove it once it’s been posted.
- Become familiar with the privacy settings on any social network you use. On Facebook, make sure that your default privacy setting is "Friends Only" or "Custom" to achieve maximum control. Prune your Friends list on a regular basis. It's easy to forget who you've friended over time and, therefore, who you’re sharing information with.
- If you receive a request to connect with someone and recognize the name, verify the account holder’s identity before accepting the request. Consider calling the individual, sending an email to his or her personal account, or even asking a question only your contact would be able to answer. Reject all requests from strangers. Be wary of requests for money, even if they are from contacts you know and trust. These are likely scams from compromised accounts.
- Remember that content posted online or via text message may be seen by those not in the intended audience. Think about whether you would want a family member, stranger or your boss to see certain information or pictures. Be especially cautious about photos of you posted online and don’t be afraid to report inappropriate content or ask for it to be removed.
- Don’t publicize vacation plans and be careful when using geotagging features that criminals can use to secretly track your location. Invest in a security system to protect yourself.
- Be very cautious of pop-up windows, especially any that state your security software is out of date, or that security threats and/or viruses have been detected on your computer. Use your task manager to navigate away from these without clicking on them, then run your spyware and virus protection software. Be sure to keep strong antivirus and spyware protection on all devices.
- Be sure to sign out of all accounts and, if you are using a social networking site that offers video chatting, pay attention to the light on your computer that indicates whether or not your webcam is in use. This will help you avoid being "caught on camera" by accident.
- In the event that any account is compromised, report it to the site immediately and alert your contacts. You will need to change passwords, but proceed with caution because your computer security may have been compromised. Malware, including key-logging software, may have been installed on your computer. If you use online banking, do not log on from the computer that may have been compromised until you have ensured your computer security is intact.
Remember that no piece of information that you disseminate is temporary - whether online, via email or text. Anything you post can be cached, stored or copied and can follow you forever. Follow #PaladinFamily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to join the conversation.