It is said that if you want someone to keep your secret, don’t tell it to them. When it comes to online privacy, this statement may be all too true. The anonymous nature of the Internet can lead to a false sense of security. The widespread use of the Internet has opened up a whole new world of options for the way we communicate, run our businesses, manage our personal finances and even shop. We are just a click away from information and resources anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, this newfound freedom to troll the Internet in search of anything and everything imaginable has brought with it a host of new risks from predators who are trolling the Internet looking for us.
Just as there are brilliant minds that have brought us the advances of the Internet, there are unscrupulous minds at work looking for ways to steal and abuse vital information about us, our private information and our personal preferences. Almost as soon as we build a firewall to protect ourselves, you can be sure that someone out there is working on a way to get around that protection and seek to abuse your identity.
Any information we supply can be used to harm us if it ends up in the wrong hands. Some sites, such as financial institutions and the more sophisticated online shopping sites have state of the art protection in place. Most of us feel reasonably comfortable maintaining a presence on these sites.
Other sites and other types of information can leave us much more exposed, figuratively and possibly literally, to outside intrusion. Beware of any site requesting highly personal or revealing information or photographs. Social networking sites can be fun and entertaining, but you should never reveal anything there that might come back to haunt you later in life when you are applying for a job, looking for business or personal financing, or running for political office. That spicey shot of intoxicated you chugging a beer at a party while dressed in something that reveals body parts better left to the imagination is not going to impress a future potential employer. And you can bet they’ll be looking for just such background information on you the day of your interview. Remember, the Internet is everyone’s pipeline to information.
Check for security encryption before entering any credit card information, personal addresses or other revealing information. While the potential exists for any site to fall victim to security breeches, those without encrypted protection are just begging to be attacked and compromised. Remember, your privacy is only as secure as the website you are visiting. It only takes a few snippets of personal information to give a predator enough information to steal your identity and leave you with years of hard work ahead of you trying to re-establish your credit and your credibility.
Certain sites carry with them the tag-along passengers of viruses and other destructive code that can disable or destroy your computer. Avoid sites with questionable objectives. They attract the lowest common denominator when it comes to visitors. These sites include pornographic sites, gambling sites and obvious spam sites. When in doubt, never enter the URL to a site directly in the address bar. Instead, enter the site through the Google portal. This will provide another layer of defense against the cookies and viruses that threaten to attack you via the Internet.
The Internet is an invaluable and essential tool for anyone wanting to play an active role in the twenty-first century. It is important to protect yourself in cyberspace with the same level of attention you always gave to protecting your wallet when walking along crowded streets in an unfamiliar city. Just because the enemy is not face-to-face close to you doesn’t mean you are safe. It is still important to use every level of protection at your disposal when working online.