Most of us are familiar with the conventional wisdom about protecting our privacy online: Don’t enter personal or credit card information into sketchy web sites. Hide birthdates and other information scammers can use to steal your identity.
But new privacy concerns pop up virtually every day, so it’s important to avoid engaging in these seven risky behaviours.
1. Posting sensitive photos
We all love to post photos of our vacations, children, and happy times in our lives, with little regard for the price we pay in compromised privacy. But you need to think about the price you might potentially pay for being so open. Photos posted while you’re on vacation announce to your community that you’re not home. And photos of children may end up in unsavoury places.
2. Downloading grabbt apps
If there’s an app for that, it might know more about you than you’d like. A February 2014 Intel report found that:
• 82% of apps were reading the device identification
• 64% knew who your carrier was
• 59% track you last known location
• 55% were continuously tracking your location
• 26% run the apps you use
• 26% knew your SIM card number
• 36% knew your account number for your account information
Be sure you know what the app is reading and, if it’s gaining access to too much information, don’t download it.
3. Letting your kids go online, then paying your bills
If the kids use your computer to explore gaming, free music, or other sites that are known for malware and then you do your online banking, you may put your accounts at risk. Using a computer that’s online constantly increases the risk of hacking and possible identity theft.
4. Clicking on email message links
As an example, we’re waiting for a shipment of garden equipment and received an email message from FedEx. Or, so it seemed. When clicking on the link, it takes you to a different web site that downloaded a root kit—typically malicious software that can give hackers access to your computer and information. It’s as easy as that, it just goes to show that you must be vigilant. Instead of clicking on links, which might not take you to the site indicated by the hyperlink text, copy and paste the text into a browser, even if you trust the sender.
Most of all, trust your instinct. If a web site or email message looks sketchy, ditch it and scan for viruses and malware.
5. Sharing vices
That shot of you smoking on your last girls’ night out or the shot of you and your friends out for a night of cocktails? It’s not a great idea to make those public. Sure, people might not think it’s a big deal now, but as more data is stored about you by various companies, you never know what the long-term consequences might be.
6. Taking quizzes
What Disney princess are you? What historical figure were you in a past life? While quizzes can be a fun diversion, there are reports that some are collecting more than your goodwill. By revealing information about yourself and your personal preferences, you may be inadvertently feeding information about yourself to marketers and data companies. If you can’t resist, be sure you look at who created the quiz. If the quiz asking “What Game of Thrones” character are you?” is on the HBO home page, the information is probably being used more appropriately than if some unknown developer created the quiz.
7. Using free Wi-Fi
The next time you log on to the coffee shop’s free Wi-Fi, don’t ignore that little notice that tells you others might be able to see what you’re viewing, because that’s true. If you log on to a free wifi account and then do your banking or buy something online, you may put yourself at risk for being scammed. If needed, use your phone as a mobile hot spot when conducting bank or other sensitive transactions on the go.