It’s a Cyber Jungle Out There, 5 Tips for Staying Safe Online

Wed, 01 Feb 2012

It's 2012 and connecting to family, friends and businesses via social media has become an integral part of our daily lives.  While the lines have blurred between the real world and the cyber world, sometimes we forget it’s still a jungle out there. In the real world we’re smart enough to know not to walk around with a billboard listing our name, address, phone number, complete birth date, children’s and pet’s names, all the while broadcasting our daily routines. Surprisingly nearly half of all social media users essentially do just that!  


What’s the 411?

According to the National Security Institute, IncThis is a third party link. Please review the third party content guidelines by clicking here for more details., criminals are flocking to online sites like Twitter and Facebook and watching your behavior. 

Here are some amazing stats:

  • 54 percent of computer users feel “addicted” to their social network of choice.  Of those, 75 percent can’t go more than a few hours without posting a status update, tweeting celebrity gossip, checking into their favorite coffee shop, or tending their virtual crops.

  • 42 percent of those who visit social-networking sites several times per day access them from mobile devices.

  • Social networking users are taking chances with sensitive information.  About 42 percent admit they post their date of birth.  Meanwhile, 18 percent post their telephone number, and 28 percent opt to have their username and password remembered by their computer (a risky choice).

  • 36 percent of social networking users say they post their pets’ names online, while 24 percent shared their children’s names and 7 percent posted their address.


Check Yourself Before you Wreck Yourself…

These data bits may seem harmless, but they are exactly the types of details social engineers use to build trust and con their way onto computer networks.


Here Are 5 Easy Tips on Staying Safe

  1. Review the privacy settings on the social media sites you visit. Be careful who you friend and the information you allow to be public.

  2. Change your passwords regularly and keep them “long and strong”. Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols, and avoid using the same password for multiple sites.

  3. Watch out for suspicious emails, known as phishing scams, where crooks try to get your account information. Don't get fooled by emails telling sad stories, making unsolicited job offers, or promising lotto winnings. Likewise, beware of any emails masquerading as a security concern from your bank or other eCommerce site. Never give out your account numbers or passwords in an email.

  4. Be mindful of broadcasting all your real-world whereabouts online. The bad guys might be waiting for you at Starbucks because they know you check in the same time every day and have seen a picture of that shiny red sports you car drive.

  5. Install virus and security software on your computer and keep it up to date.  Your virus program is only as good as the frequency with which it is updated. New viruses, worms, and Trojan horses are born daily, and variations of them can slip by software that is not current.


It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, here are some fun and thoughtful videos to bring home the point.


What other safety tips do you abide by or teach your kids to?