If you get a virus on your computer, you’re not going to start sneezing right there in your bedroom or office (thank goodness). But a ruined reputation online can follow you and your business, just as a successful online reputation can help you get more business. The Internet carries opportunity as well as the risk of digital mayhem.
“This magical world is as fragile and vulnerable as your new car parked on a dark street in a bad part of town,” says John Mariotti in “The End of Your Digital Life as You Know It.” “Come back to it and it might be covered with graffiti or have parts missing.” He adds that “hackers are the modern equivalent of malicious vandals and criminals.”
I agree–our websites are our digital homes, our profiles and conversations are digital extensions of our thoughts and ideas. I don’t want my voice to be hacked. I want it to be protected. In “The Truth About Cyber Threats,” John includes seven tips to help you stay safer online. Below are three of them:
“Do not open attachments that are suspicious or unfamiliar—it’s just not worth the risk.”
Especially if the offer sounds too good to be true, no matter who it’s coming from, let it go. If you don’t trust it, then trash it, delete it and then call the person it came from. Three of my friends and associates have been hacked in the last three months—their email accounts and social networks. Making that phone call alerted them to the situation and protected me and my own networks.
“Change passwords regularly (and mix them up—alpha characters, upper and lowercase, numbers, symbols).”
I used to be lazy with my passwords, but it’s more work to undo a hacker’s mess. So now I change them. And I’ve quit using stupid stuff like the word “password” as a password (I know I’m not the only one who did this, and if you are still doing it, stop. You can come up with a better password that you can remember).
“Trash spam and empty the trash—get it out of your computer.”
I used to leave it on my computer forever. Not any more. Thanks John.
But what about family and friends who hack your privacy with ugly pictures or less than flattering personal moments captured and posted online without your consent? In “Facebook and Privacy: Will It Force Us to Be Better People?” Yvonne DiVita says, “It’s not that hard to be a better person online. It’s not that hard to stop and think, “Would I want my sister/cousin/mom/uncle/brother/dad, whomever, to share this photo/info if it were about me?”
In other words, it’s the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Funny how being online doesn’t excuse us from being thoughtful.