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Privacy and security on the internet

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I appreciate that what I am about to write about some of the members here may already be aware of this, but for those who aren't please continue reading on. I am not posting this with the intention of scaring you or to discourage you from posting or contributing. I am posting this to hopefully to draw your attention to certain things you may not be aware of.

When creating content (content can be anything from pictures and videos to text content) and accounts online / on the internet it's worth bearing in mind that there will most likely be a permenant record of it and this sometimes can be accessed by the public. There is an organisation that is known as the Internet Archive and as the name suggests their aim is to archive websites and other ditigal content, a bit like a library contains books, their aim is to create the digital equivalent which like libraries is free. I appreciate that there are steps that sites can take to stop their site from being added to the archive but I think most sites probably won't do this as a matter of course.

Whilst the above may sound scary and may put you off interacting online there are things you can do to help preserve your privacy and stay safe at the same time. Please see below some steps you can take to achieve this but bear in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive:

  • When choosing a username for a site such as this don't use one that can identify you for example conatins your name.
  • Be mindful of how much information you give out to people who you don't know. Stop and think can I trust the person or ogranisation that I am going to give information to. If you aren't sure then don't give it, but depending on the organsation or purpose your information is needed for this may limit what servcies they can provide to you. To help you gauge if an organisation can be trusted or not there are things you can do such as undertaking a google search on them, taking a look at their website and reading reviews for example. For a person you could ask others if they have had dealings with them and what their experience was. Remember at the end of the day it's your information and you can choose how much you want to divulge /give out and who to.
  • When signing up for services try not to use the same email address for all, especially if the services gives people access to sensitive information such as banking for example. The risk is that if your email address is compromised then it can be used to gain access. If you use different email addresses then the risk is reduced.
  • Where possible enable 2 factor authentication. By enalbing this it provides an extra layer of security due to you needing two forms of authentication to 'prove' it's you accessing your account. One will usually be your password and the other will be a time limited randomly generated code. This code is either generated using an app such as authy or Google Authenticator for example or by a code being sent your mobile / cellular device.
  • Be mindful of where you upload selfies / pictures that contain your face as this can be used for other purposes that you may not of intended. For example social media sites have been trawled by companies collecting photos for the purpose of adding the picutres to facial recognition software. The software can then be used by law enforecment agencies and intelligence services. This news article makes interesting reading and hilights the point I am trying to make: https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2018/04/16/huge-facebook-facial-recognition-database-built-by-ex-israeli-spies/
  • Be careful of clicking on links / opening attachments you weren't expecting. Links can be used to steal your identity (by taking you to a fake site that looks legitimate and trying to trick you to entering personal deatails) or donwnload computer viruses.
  • Regularly review and update privacy settings on social media and other sites. These settings allow you to control what parts and who has access to them.
  • The more information you give out / put online the more one has to build a 'digital picture' of you and can link this together to use this to potentially identify you, so if privacy is a concern for you then I suggest you limit this.

  Whilst the above list isn't exhaustive hopefully it gives you some things to consider and will hopefully help you to keep safe online whilst maintaining some privacy and hopeully enjoying yourself.

Finally for further information on how to stay safe online please see the following site: https://www.getsafeonline.org/

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