Protect Your Personal Information

by GOsafeonline | 11 March 2011

In protecting our personal information, we need to exercise discretion about what we post about ourselves on Internet sites. And when any site requests for information, we need to think about the amount and detail of information being requested. Does it correspond to what we think is needed to make a purchase or register for a new service? And are we sure we know why the information is being requested and how it will be used?

We also need to know how to recognise scam and hoax emails and websites to prevent our information from being stolen.

So, how can we protect our personal information?

  1. Keep personal information personal.
    Be cautious about how much personal information you provide online on social networking sites and forums. The more information you post, the easier it may be for someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your information or commit other crimes.
  2. Don't give out your email address without needing to.
    Think about why you are providing it, what the benefit is for you, and whether it will mean that you may receive emails you don’t want. You may want to have a secondary email address for such purposes. Use your primary email with friends and business associates whom you know and trust.
  3. Learn about privacy and security settings on social networks.
    If you use social networking sites, adjust your privacy settings to control the amount and type of information you want to share, so that people you don't know very well can only see certain parts of your profile.
  4. Once posted, always posted.
    Protect your reputation online. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your relations or employers (whether present or future) to see.
  5. Set strong passwords for your online accounts.
    This is particularly important for financial accounts (such as Internet banking accounts or online shopping accounts).

    A strong password contains at least 8 characters, a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Change these passwords regularly. Ideally, you should use a different password for every online account you have.
  6. Be cautious about emails, social networking site messages, and instant messages that contain links.
    Even if the links look like they come from friends, be cautious about clicking on them right away. If your friend’s account has been hacked, this link could come from a hacker and could lead to malware being downloaded onto your computer or be part of a phishing attack.

    If you are suspicious about the legitimacy of the link, don’t click on it. Contact the sender directly to verify its validity.