By: Shirley Merith
Is there such a thing as personal privacy online? The answer to that question is probably no. So while you think you’re safe when the privacy setting is turned on, it doesn’t mean that the social network platform you use won’t share your information to a third party. Your private information could now belong to other people, companies or organizations. Remember, when you post your information on the internet even if it’s to send an email, always do so bearing in mind that someone, somewhere could be looking at it.
Clearly, we are in a sharing society. People openly post personal information for the world to see. Sometimes it seems as though those who share, truly don’t realize the impact this information can have on their past, present and future. Sharing is a way to stay connected with friends, family, and acquaintances. But not everybody likes to have their personal data out on the internet. When you decide to share your pictures online that include other people, you could potentially be invading their privacy. Furthermore, you never know how much trouble you can get yourself into by sharing the wrong information, with the wrong people at the wrong time.
Technology makes life seem so much more comfortable. Because you are in front of a screen, it feels as though you’re in your own private space. This makes it easier to divulge information that you might not have done if it were to be given in person. So one might ask,”How important is it for you to keep your personal information private?” For some not so much, but for other’s it is critical. Not because they are hiding anything, but because it’s not that important to expose themselves to the online world. When you take a look at the statistics relating to internet usage, it identifies the vast amount of people online worldwide who could potentially have access to your personal information. While most will not take the time to pursue any ill will on others, there are those who take great pleasure in doing this. With that being said, people have become too trusting with the amount of personal data they are willing to share with complete strangers.
Whether you like it or not, you are being followed on the internet. Every time you browse or purchase something online, the information is tracked and stored. To some degree, your privacy is being infringed upon without your consent. Over 50% of those polled by Big Brother Watch, would like to have some sort of control about how much of their private data is monitored online. Although it might sound great to be able to have control, we all know that it would be an impossible task to monitor. There are many ways that your privacy can be violated online such as, identity theft, viruses, scams, and phishing to name a few. So before you put yourself in the position where your privacy will easily be breached, think about the following:
When purchasing from an online retailer most people check to see if the retailer has a secure site. Once the purchase has been made there is usually no reason to believe that your information will be used for anything other than for your purchases. However, due to no fault of the retailer, your information can be leaked. There have been many cases where major retailers have been hacked and all of their customer’s data was accessed. The best thing to do is to have a separate credit card with a small limit on it that you use just for online purchases. Even if hackers get hold of your credit card number, they will only be able to run up a small amount of debt on the card.
Reduce the amount of detailed information you provide to sources that you are not familiar with. Don’t sign up for each and every website that appears in your inbox. Do some research before you register and when you do sign up use an email account that is not your main one. Be more selective when choosing whom to accept as friends. Don’t always tell people online when you are going to be out of town. If you want to share photo’s post them when you return. Don’t put yourself at risk as its better to be safe than sorry.
We all know how annoying it can be to change your password over and over again. But, in the name of safety and security, it is important. Take the time to think of a password that will be a challenge for someone to penetrate. Mind you, after you’ve changed your password for the third time, you probably have forgotten what it was, so remember to write it down somewhere other than your phone, just in case you forget that password as well.