Safety Online

Cyber harassment and stalking is on the increase and its important to know how to protect yourself when using the internet.

Social Networking
Dating
Computers
Emails
Cover your Tracks

Social Networking

  • Stay as anonymous as possible: do not reveal details about your address, phone number, routine or place of work on your social networking profile or to anyone who asks online.
  • You may want to set up a new account. If you decide to do this we recommend following the suggestions above and  only sharing the new account with your close, trusted friends. Ask that they also change their privacy settings so that you are protected. See recommended Facebook privacy settings Facebook Privacy Settings
  • Change your passwords regularly.
  • Review your privacy settings to make sure that only your friends can see your profile details and pictures.
  • Don’t let others tag you in photos remove all tags from photos.
  • Do not allow people that you’ve never met or don’t know access to your profile or add them to your contact lists.
  • Never share your passwords with anyone. If you do, even accidentally, change them as soon as possible.

Online Dating, Message Boards and Forums

  • Do not reveal any identifiable personal information about yourself, such as where you work, where you live, your phone number or second name.
  • Choose a nickname that doesn’t reveal anything about your gender or your real name.
  • If you decide to meet someone you know online, always meet in a public place and ask a friend to come with you at first. If no one can accompany you, leave details of your plans with a friend and agree to contact them at a certain time.
  • Mobile phones and some digital cameras automatically put data that shows where the picture was taken. This data is easy to find. So, do not send a photo unless you have turned off your geo location tags feature and so you know it is safe. Don’t’ send old photos if you are unsure.

Computers

  • Install anti-virus and anti spyware software and always make sure it’s up to date.
  • If you suspect your computer has been bugged or that someone has placed tracking software or malware on it, ask a trusted professional to look at it and remove any suspicious software. . If you suspect that someone is able to access or read what you are doing on your computer it may have spyware. Go to a safe computer such as a friend or library and immediately change the passwords on your key online accounts such email, social networking, bank/paypal accounts. Don’t access those accounts with your computer until it is clean and safe. You can clean your computer by buying an anti-spyware software.
  • Put your laptop away when you leave it at home. If it is on display, it is more likely to be stolen or tampered with if someone enters your home. Secure your computer by logging off when you leave the room or go out. Then no one can access it without a passwords. (Go to start menu and then on the lower right is log off)

Email

  • You dont necessarily have to close your email account if your stalker gets hold of the address. Instead, you can create another account and give that address only to trusted friends and family.
  • Also consider creating different email accounts to use with financial services and retail.
  • Consider creating a folder just for emails from your stalker. You can set up a filter so that emails from a particular sender go straight to a certain file and don’t appear in your inbox. This means you will still have the emails as evidence but won’t have to see them when you open your mail.
  • Stalkers can know your email address and password or can guess it. If they can read your email or access your social network they can find out a lot of information or contact people and cause a lot of damage or distress. It is important to get a new clean email address for your online accounts and secure passwords. Many online email providers now offer an option to manage multiple accounts so it doesn’t have to be difficult.
  • Set-up multiple email accounts 1) old email so that you don’t lose contact with existing friends, family or colleagues. 2) for trusted contacts 3) for online accounts such as social networks 4) financial accounts and online shopping. If you have multiple accounts and the stalker takes over one then the others may still be secure and you don’t lose everything.

Mobile phone safety

  • Set your mobile so you have to use a PIN to unlock your phone. Try to set it to lock after one or two minutes without use. Use random numbers instead of birthdates or other guessable formats.
  • Don’t use apps that tell you where friends are, or ‘check you in’. If you suspect someone has put a tracking app on your mobile go through your apps and remove any suspicious ones.
  • Use Mobile security software, look for one that offers “white lists” that is a feature that means only those people in your address book can contact you. So, if your stalker calls or sends abuse texts those won’t get through – even if they change their number.
  • Turn off geolocation services in camera apps and your mobile settings. Turn it on only when you need to use it. It will also increase your battery life.
  • Get a cheap mobile to make sensitive calls or when you are going to a sensitive location.

Cover Your Tracks

As you surf the internet your internet browser will save certain information, such as the websites you have visited and images or publications you have downloaded. If you do not want people who may have access to your computer to know which websites you have been viewing  you should use a safe computer such as a friend’s, library or work.

There are different methods to hide your tracks and delete your history for each internet browser. Click the link below for information about how to delete your history from some of the most popular browsers.

It should be noted that if you are using someone else’s computer they may notice if you delete the computer history and cookies.

Cover Your Tracks Online

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