In the 21st century, people live a whole lot of their lives online. On one hand, this can be a good thing. On the internet, you can connect with friends who live thousands of miles away, get minute-by-minute news updates, and find information about nearly any topic.
However, there’s a potential dark side to all that convenience. If you use the internet too frequently, you might forget where, how much, and with whom you’re sharing your information. This can easily lead to security breaches that could cost you a great deal. To ward off any security issues that you might run into from sharing too much online, you should revisit the information you post every so often.
To make sure you’re being safe online, the most important things to check include:
-Old, long-forgotten info
Sometimes, apps and websites need to know your location, whether precisely or generally. If you’re buying a physical item, you’re going to need to provide your home address or a P.O. Box. You’ll also need to share your location to use certain services; turn-by-turn instructions aren’t available on map apps unless you share your location. However, you don’t always have to share it.
Apple iOS specifically has a number of privacy settings that dictate who’s allowed to see your location and when. Revisiting those settings every so often is a good idea. On other operating systems, you can also see what apps are using your location, although it’s not always as in-depth.
Your demographic information covers all the basics: age, gender, race, and socioeconomic status. Sometimes, it can also include information like the amount of formal education you have and your hobbies. Think about a survey you’ve taken recently; if there were optional questions at the end about you personally, they were probably collecting demographic information.
Collecting demographic information isn’t always a bad thing. Scientific studies use demographics to make sure they’re taking a representative sample of subjects. And censuses use demographics to understand the people that live in different cities, states, and countries.
However, some advertisers can go overboard. Using your social media habits and internet browsing, some online advertising agencies can pinpoint your information down to the type of diet you’re on. To make this targeting less specific, visit the settings on your favorite websites to choose who can see what information.
Many people use social media sites to sign-in on other apps. It’s much easier to log onto your Facebook account than it is to create a new account with a fresh set of login information. However, what happens when you stop using that app? If you’re like many people, you forget about it.
Unfortunately, if you don’t revoke access to your online information, these apps will continue to use it. Thankfully, removing that app’s access usually only takes a few clicks. It’s important to revisit those permissions every few months to remove anything you’re not using anymore.
Am I Still Safe Online?
When you know about the different ways apps and websites can share your information, you’re more likely to be careful about what you share moving forward. However, any information you’ve already shared is still out there. Think you may have information left around the internet that you need to clean up? You should try and find out for sure.
Try and look yourself up online, or via a dedicated people search. If any questionable information shows up, you’ll know that you need to clean it up. And hopefully, based on the type of information, you know the source and where you need to go to remove or correct any of it.
Online privacy isn’t impossible, no matter how difficult it may seem at first glance. You just need to stay on top of your privacy settings, and make sure you keep an eye on what you’re sharing with the apps and companies you deal with most frequently.
Read the PeopleFinders blog to learn about other ways to protect your security and privacy when online.
Image attribution: oatawa – stock.adobe.com