Having an active online presence can be fun and engaging, and it can bring you closer to many people that you may potentially care about. However, as fun as that whole experience can be, it’s also something that should be approached carefully and with a wary attitude. If you’re not careful enough, it may be easy for attackers to compromise your whole identity, and from then, they can potentially wreak havoc on your life, causing a lot of trouble for you in the long run, sometimes before you can even realize what’s going on. There are various things you can do to improve your security online and minimize the risk of these things happening, and familiarizing yourself with some of the general concepts behind staying safe is one of the best things you could do.
Use Different Passwords
A common trick used by attackers is to try getting into as many different accounts as possible after obtaining your credentials for one. It’s not rare for people to just reuse their passwords out of laziness, and who can blame them – it’s a chore having to remember a dozen different, secure passwords for all the services you use. But sadly, it’s the only way to stay safe nowadays, as many services keep getting hacked on a regular basis and there’s not really anything you can do to prevent that from happening. What you can do, however, is to ensure that your compromised accounts don’t lead to bigger consequences in the long run.
Don’t Reuse Account Names
On that note, make sure that the usernames you use are also unique and hard to link to you personally. If someone is trying to track down your other online identities, they would frequently try to search your username online and see what kinds of results they get. You can easily make their job more difficult by simply avoiding any reused user names, and additionally making your new usernames as random and senseless (with regards to you personally) as possible. This can go a long way towards preventing someone from finding out who you are by linking many of your profiles together to get the big picture.
Don’t Use Your Real Name
It’s strange to think about how much effort we’ve put into teaching our kids that they should not use their real names online for anything, and yet this is pretty much unavoidable today if you want to do anything online. Here’s the thing though, nobody is actually forcing you to submit your real name if you don’t feel like it! If you want to use a service like a social media platform, that’s a different story, but whenever you get a prompt asking you for your real name in other sites, it’s perfectly fine to just make something up and stick with that. Nobody is going to come after you, don’t worry about that.
Only Accept Contact Invitations From Known People
Last but not least, be careful about new contact requests that you get online. It’s not rare for people to pose as someone you might know, especially an attractive person of the opposite gender, while they’re simply trying to get access to the more private parts of your profile so they can stalk you better. Even worse, they might start spamming you with shady links to sites with malware, hoping that you would be careless enough to get infected. It’s something that’s becoming more and more problematic these days, especially among older folks, and it’s important to stay vigilant and report any suspicious profiles that you think might be violating the terms and conditions of the platforms you’re using.
Protecting your privacy is getting more and more difficult it seems, but that’s mostly because we ourselves have gotten a bit careless with how we handle our data online. It’s important to take a step back and reevaluate your approach if you think that you might be sharing too much, and it’s often not rare to identify the exact points that you might be handling wrong if you put some thought into it. Combine that with adequate protection of your computer through antivirus and similar tools, and you should have a solid package to keep intruders and stalkers at bay.