Criminals and hackers can easily gather secret info and private data about you - since you've provided it willingly!

Just a little precaution goes a long way


There are plenty of social networking websites today. Several of the many services these websites offer is the ability to share our thoughts as well as meet new friends. Like in real life humans' trust on others in the internet increases the longer they share something with other people, for example sharing money to maintain a blog, being in the same guild on an online game or by developing a website for their community.

However, some of us forget that relations is the internet is hardly near real lifely in terms of identity or security. Many people forgot that sometimes they are dealing with people that may have fake photographs, phoney name or even artificial intelligence! [1233]A group of researchers from the University of British Columbia had created bots to simulate Facebook's 'add friend' feature, where they randomly send friend request to other people, using a fake profile concocted to fool the other person into accepting such request. Consequently, these bots then mined the data from that other person, especially if they have a relaxed privacy policy. Many email addresses and phone numbers were obtained without explicit consent.

So to prevent such occurences, here's 5 easy tips to be more savvy!

1 - Always ask and always query

This is important for everyone and is easily done. See that one person asking for friend request, yet having never met him/her before? Go and ask them 'why'. This is to clarify their status with you. If you are in doubt, you can also ask them to send a personalised photo. Try telling them to write their name on a paper then post it online, to prove that it's a real human on the end of the line. A bot would be unable to do this.

2 - Be wary of unsolicited e-mails

This one is getting more virulent nowadays. Somewhere in the untamed online jungle a certain malware is sending emails, inside of which lies a 'friend request' from Facebook. Novices may get tricked here, since the layout of the email very closely resembles Facebook's blue hue, but this is in fact a trick used to steal personal data.  [1234]Just check the friend request directly at Facebook site itself, and *never* click or download from unknown links!

3 - Share only when you're aware

Alright, this might not apply to everyone, but to those who regularly consume alcoholic drinks or other intoxicants, please remember not to be near your computer while drunk! Much like how drivers are not supposed to be behind the wheel while felling trippy, you can do things that you'll later regret while online too. For example, eventhough pictures on Facebook can be set to 'private', this does not prevent 'friends' from leaking such pictures, as a now jobless teacher experiences.[1235]

4 - Read and understand a site's Terms of Service (TOS)

Before registrating with a website, please be familiar with their TOS first. Admittedly, some of them are too long to be comprehended by those who aren't lawyers, so if you don't have the time try other methods. For example, press ctrl + f to search for specific keywords within the page. Typing in 'privacy handling' will highlight points within the TOS, where you can find out how they sort out private data. You can also search for it, by typing "(website name here) privacy concerns" in a search engine to know what others think.

5 - The computer's security and accessibility

Even after following all the points above, it will likely be rendered futile if you forgot to follow this one. Protecting your computer from external intruders is important because those who have somehow accessed an unguarded computer can bypass all online measures and passwords simply because you let the do so! This is especially jarring if you tend to left your computer for a certain amount of time without locking it with a secure password. And remember, if you no longer need a website's service, please logout properly! Failing this means even your kids can post on your Facebook wall or send an embarassing tweet to pretty much everyone on your social network.