Social media is in everyday life. You have millions of people using it everyday, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, and so many others. With hundreds of millions of users online, these tools not only attract friends and family wanting to stay in touch, but they also attract people wanting to know about you for the wrong reasons.

As a person who’s used to using social media every day you may think that you know it all about being online. But there are a few things that many people might not know. This issue is so important that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sponsors Cyber Security Awareness Month every October. Top of the list is Internet privacy and the dangers of cyber attacks.

College Students are Highly Vulnerable to Identity Theft

Like living in close quarters with other students makes college students become highly vulnerable to identity theft. Unless you keep your personal information under lock and key; your checkbook, credit card statements and other sensitive information is accessible to anyone who visits your dorm room. To help reduce that risk, take this advice:

  • Never loan anyone your credit or debit card.
  • Use a different password on each of your devices.
  • Use encryption software to protect phones and laptop.
  • Don’t enter financial information on an unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

Social Media Posts Create an Information Trail

Remember that everything you do online leaves a trail that others can see – and you don’t have total control over who that is. For that reason, there are a few things to think about before posting.

  • The codes hackers use can steal your identity, inject viruses to your computer, and obstruct bank account information, to name a few. When you use social networking sites, you are posting personal information. Once information is posted online, it’s no longer private and can fall into the wrong hands. The more you post, the more vulnerable you become to those who may wish to harm you.
  • To keep sites from tracking your activity, click on the “Do Not Track” feature. Most websites have an option for you to opt out of tracking. You can also clear the cache and cookies on your browser regularly to help prevent any problems.

Keep Your Personal Schedule Off-Line

Telling the online world where you’re going and when you aren’t at home is inviting trouble to find you. Things to consider

  • Avoid posting specific travel plans. Never post when, where, or how long you’ll be gone.
  • Wait until you are home to post pictures to an album.
  • Use highest privacy control. Only let certain groups, like a family group, view your photos.
  • Be selective with the status updates. Create a Group of your closest friends/family on Facebook.  Then, before posting, use an audience-selector dropdown menu on Facebook to choose only that specific group  to see your status updates.

senior picture

Winter Parker

Student at St. Charles Community College College. Degree:  Web Design and Multimedia. I like to create digital graphics in Photoshop that appeals to everyone.