Everything that you do online immediately creates a stream of personal data. This data is incredibly valuable. Particularly in a world that thrives off data exchanges. Understanding how to protect your data, therefore, becomes essential.

Understanding personal data

Online surveys, Wi-Fi fill-out forms and online shipping are but a few examples of data exchange. This is where you provide personal information in exchange for a service or product. Contrary to belief, the item that you then receive is not the actual product – you are! The data that these systems gather essentially turn you into their product that they can later use for personal gains.

In some cases, your data is innocuous but in many situations, this data poses a real threat to your online safety. Companies, cyber hackers and criminals can piece together this information where all of your personal data is exposed; leaving you vulnerable and susceptible to cyber attacks.

Do not panic! There are numerous ways to protect both your privacy and identity online. Particularly when engaging on social media, which is one of the biggest platforms for cyber data hacking. Knowing the risks immediately puts you ahead. Here are our top social media audit tips for you to employ:

Facebook

As you know, Facebook has subtabs on every profile that allows users to fill in information about themselves. This includes your age, images and your location. These interactive features are open to the public to engage with.

Did you know that in the third quarter of 2019, Facebook had 2.45 billion monthly active users? This substantial user engagement accounts for the high advertising revenues that the site accumulates. When utilising this app, we suggest employing these dos and don’ts to protect yourself:

Do:

·         Only establish connections with people that you know and trust, make sure to check your friend list often.

·         Assume that ANYONE on the internet has access to your personal information on your Facebook page, so take caution when divulging information.

·         Check the privacy settings on your friends and family’s personal pages, as their accounts could expose your personal data.

·         Secure your browser settings, ensuring that you recognise and understand various access points.

Don’t:

·         Post images that have your exact location attached to the image.

·         Assume that because your profile is restricted from public view that the server does not have access to your data that can be shared amongst third parties.

Where to locate Facebook settings: Click from the top right of your Facebook page and tap the word ‘Settings’. Click Privacy in the left column and then ‘Edit’. 

Instagram

Instagram is a photo-sharing app that allows its user to curate personalised content. Instagram has over one billion monthly active users and is one of the most popular social networks worldwide. In terms of the social media platform’s privacy, accounts can be made public or private. Content, however, can be viewed by non-Instagram users via Google search. It is crucial that the following measures are taken to safeguard your privacy:

Do:

·         Only allow close friends and family to follow your account.

·         Ensure that your family and friends take similar privacy precautions to ensure that your personal information remains private.

Don’t:

·        Automate your Instagram posts to go onto your various other social profiles (ie: Twitter and Facebook). This inherently increases your discoverability.

·         Embed hashtags in your images as this increases your visibility when individuals are searching.

Where to locate Instagram settings: Tap on your profile and click the icon found in the top-right corner. This will give you access to all privacy settings.

Twitter

Twitter is a social media networking app that is known for its micro-blogging format. Twitter averaged 330 million monthly active users in the first quarter of 2019. For many, Twitter is a medium to stay up to date on current affairs and the whereabouts of friends. We recommend the following when engaging on this platform to enhance your privacy.

Do:

·         Only establish connections with people that you know and trust, make sure to check your friend list often.

·         Assume that ANYONE on the internet has access to your personal information on your Facebook page, so take caution when divulging information.

·         Secure your browser settings, ensuring that you recognise and understand various access points.

Don’t:

·         Post images that have your exact location attached to the image.

·         Assume that because your profile is restricted from public view that the server does not have access to your data that can be shared amongst third parties.

Where to access Twitter privacy settings: Click on your thumbnail profile picture located on the top banner. From the drop banner menu, select Settings and Privacy. 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a popular professional networking site that connects employers to job seekers that have shared their CV’s. The most recent and accurate number of LinkedIn’s monthly active users is 303 million. Users maintain their pages by regularly updating the page with educational and professional achievements.

Do:

·         Regularly review the connections that you have made on the site.

·         Although this app is based on sharing professional information, ensure that you are cautious and intentional with the information that is shared.

·         Turn your profile visibility “off” when you are no longer actively seeking a job.

Don’t:

·         Post multiple images on this app in order to ensure a level of privacy.

·         Ignore the Data Privacy and Advertising setting option. This can be found under Settings & Privacy > Privacy > How LinkedIn uses your data.

·         Forget to restrict your browser settings to prohibit those on the same server from accessing your information.

Where to access LinkedIn privacy settings: Tap on the Privacy tab under the Settings & Privacy heading. Apply the above-mentioned precautions when creating and maintaining your profile.When sharing information online, we often forget that once that information is shared, there is no control over where it goes. Employing these safety measures will ensure that this year you remain in FULL control over your digital presence. Need a little more help with navigating your online presence? Click here and get in contact with us!