3 online privacy mistakes and how to avoid them

This week is Privacy Awareness Week. We asked our Privacy Officer, Kate Monckton, to share some of her top tips for helping to protect your online privacy.

As this week is Privacy Awareness Week and this year’s theme is ‘Privacy Everyday’, it’s a great opportunity for me to share some of the things you can do every day to help maintain your privacy online. Here are three online privacy mistakes people make all the time, and how you can help avoid them.

Privacy Mistake #1: Being unaware of the risks of sharing personal information online

I think social media is brilliant. I use it all the time to stay in touch with family and friends overseas and keep up to date on what’s going on in the world. But there can be risks associated with sharing personal information online – identify fraud, becoming the victim of scams or compromising future employment or education opportunities, to name a few.

How much you share online is a personal decision. Ultimately, you need to feel comfortable with the risks of sharing. As a starting point, it’s important to know what information you are sharing – and what you might be sharing inadvertently. That leads me to my next (mistake) point…

Privacy Mistake #2: Not checking your privacy settings

If you use social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram, make sure you review and adjust your privacy settings. I regularly run a ‘privacy health-check’ on my own social media accounts.

The first time I did so, I was surprised to find I was actually sharing more than I had intended. Now, I make my ‘health checks’ a regular occurrence.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy and quick to change your settings if you know how to do it. Below, I’ve linked to some of the most popular social media sites’ information about reviewing and changing your security and privacy settings.

Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter
Instagram
YouTube

Privacy Mistake #3: Sharing computers and other online devices without taking precautions

If you’re using a shared or public computer, make sure you are not inadvertently leaving your online accounts logged on, or leaving personal information saved in auto-complete forms or browsing history for the next user to find.

  • Make sure you properly log out of any online accounts
  • Review any ‘auto login’ settings you may have in place
  • Say ‘no’ when you’re asked if you want to save your password on a web page
  • Clear your browsing history when you have finished or use ‘incognito’ or ‘private’ settings

These tips aren’t exhaustive and there is a wealth of information out there if you are interested to learn more about protecting your privacy and security online. A couple of good places to start are the Stay Smart Online or SCAMwatch websites.