Privacy and security is always a concern, particularly in this era of social media and social sharing. Did you know that January is the tenth annual National Stalking Awareness Month dedicated to educating the public about the dangers related to the crime of stalking both online and offline? The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and McAfee (security software provider) have offered up some valuable tips for those of you who have been or may become victims of cyber stalkers. Indeed some useful tips here, however, it may be a mammoth effort to go back in time and correct everything so be aware, you may be in store for a huge effort if this is a concern of yours.
The following are 10 things that you can do to help prevent a cyber stalker from making you a victim – I’ve added my own comment to each point:
Create strong passwords – indeed a strong password is a great idea, consider using miss-spellings or variations of common words in your PW and also try to use mix case, both alpha and number characters as well as special characters – try not to use the same PW on ALL your resources!
Cleanup your online profiles – I suggest you make your profile very professional (most employers will at some time search you out), keep it brief, and don’t provide any personal information.
Lockdown your privacy settings – share only with “friends” – note, using facebook as an example, look at your profile/account using the “how others see me” option to test
Be careful with whom you connect with – do you really know who you are friending? Look at the latest Manti Te’O Notre Dame fiasco as a small example!
Google yourself to see what’s out there about you – most top hits on google personal search lead to your social networks
Don’t use an email address that is easy to identify – I guess I’m guilty here as I use an email address that contains my name! OOPS
If you have a personal website, don’t post your email address – indeed, email addresses get harvested and propogated when online, consider using a Google Docs (Drive) email form
Be careful when posting photos online – are you including family, friends, and other information that can identify you or your location?
Avoid using location-based services – this is rather broad but when sharing location (like on foursquare) take care about how you geolocate yourself. Consider checking in when you leave (checkout) and never checkin from your home!
Delete old posts or entries – this may be tough but browse your history and get rid of items that put you at risk… your stalker will observe your history so you should too
Some useful resources for cyber stalker victims:
- National Center for Victims of Crime: www.victimsofcrime.org/src
- National Network to End Domestic Violence: www.nnedv.org
- Department of Justice: www.ovw.usdoj.gov/aboutstalking.htm