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How to stay safe online

From the recent NSA scandal to the widely publicized Heartbleed virus, internet security has been at the forefront of day-today conversation. Social media is one of the most popular methods of communication, and the fear is growing that the information you upload onto social media websites may not be as secure as once thought.

Here are some tips to help ensure that your information is safe online.

  • Make sure your passwords are strong and secure. If the majority of your passwords are 123456, it’s time for a change. Generic words or phrases used as passwords are too easy to guess, and using them puts the access to your online information at risk. When creating a password, be sure to incorporate a combination of different letters (both upper and lower-case), numbers, and symbols. The more letters, numbers, and symbols you mix, the more secure your password.
  • Make your social media accounts private. If you do not have any privacy settings on your online accounts, just about anyone can view what you have shared through a simple online search. If you have a Facebook account, making it private prevents random people from having access to your photos, friend list and information. And making your Twitter account private lets you control who follows you, and only your followers can see what you tweet. Not foolproof, but definitely a good start toward having control over your info.
  • Ultimately, internet security will never be perfect, but don’t share too much. No matter how many measures you take to protect your information, there is always a small chance that your information may be breached. Your information can’t be stolen if it is never uploaded in the first place. If you have a file, picture, video, or any other type of media that could put you at risk if it got into the wrong hands, it’s best not to share it.

Social media is fun, but before participating you should make sure you have taken the necessary steps to protect any information you may post. Many online security breaches that do occur are the result of a user’s failure to properly secure their own information. And while it’s not guaranteed that everything you post on social media will be safe, it’s best to remember that if you don’t post it, it can’t be stolen.