Protect your identity

Be Mysterious: don't give away too much information about yourself online!

If you restrict what others can find out about you on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter you will:

  • reduce the risk of identity theft
  • reduce the risk of property theft
  • prevent other people finding out things about your social life that you'd rather keep discreet

Set your privacy on social media

Social networks such as Facebook cannot reveal stuff about you which you (or your friends) don’t tell them:

  • Make sure privacy is set sensibly and learn how security and privacy works.
    • For example in Facebook and LinkedIn you can use the privacy settings to restrict how much data others can see, and review your settings by viewing your profile as if you were someone else - especially people who aren't already your friends in the physical world.
  • Don't post compromising status updates or photos of yourself or of your friends. Prospective employers use Facebook too.
    • If someone else tags you in a photo, have a look at it and remove the tag if you don't want others to know you're in it. (Or ask your friend to remove the photo itself.)
  • Be careful of random 'friends' you don’t actually know, especially emails asking to join your network - see the phishing advice
  • Watch out for new followers on Twitter who are following lots of people but have few followers
  • Watch out for shortened links in tweets - you don’t know where they go!
  • Contributions on email lists, wikis, blogs and discussion boards are often saved and can be read a long time after they've been made. An ill-advised comment may come back to haunt you!
  • Tell people only the bare essentials in your out-of-office emails. Use a vague statement like "I'm not going to be checking my emails until the 20th" rather than "Off on holiday till the 20th" which implies that your flat is empty!

Data is valuable

  • Criminals can guess bank passwords etc. if you give lots of info about yourself on social networking sites
  • If someone writes "John is 21 today" then it is easy to discover John’s date of birth, even if he kept it hidden from his public profile
  • Be careful with: DOB, NI number, mother’s maiden name, home address, previous address, employer, birthplace, school details, and the other pieces of personal information which banks often use to verify your identity. Criminals build up a profile of you to steal your ID, and can use Facebook quizzes and games to gather some of this from you
  • Be careful about saying you're on holiday, (or even just implying it with photos)
  • 'Stranded in a foreign city' scams are becoming more common and more elaborate, built with information available on these networking sites

Other Sources of Information



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Written by IT Services. Latest revision 28 November 2014