By Kevin McNulty of NetWeave Social Networking, our Social Media Partner

Let me bottom-line this for you: If you don’t want something shared on the Internet, don’t put it on the Internet. It’s really that simple.

Privacy is dying. Many say it’s already dead. Living your life on social media is like living in a fishbowl… something digital natives like Generation Z and, to a lesser extent, Millennials, already know. They don’t have the same expectation of privacy of previous generations. But still and all, what most people don’t realize is that you don’t have to be a victim of a high-tech hacker to have your digital footprint or even real life compromised. Chances are good that you already put enough information on the web to make it easy for identity thieves and other crooks.

So how do we share our lives with our friends but protect them from bad guys? Consider these measures:

• Be careful what you post. Don’t tell the world you’re away from home for two weeks, for example. If you make vacation posts, set them to friends-only, or better yet, wait until you’re back to post them. Look at your social stream from the viewpoint of someone looking for information about you. Don’t post things that would answer security questions, like your mother’s maiden name, or better yet, don’t even use that for your security question, which brings us to our next point.

• Lie. If you are picking a security question for a sensitive login like your bank or social profile, lie about the answer. Say your first pet was Snowball even if it was Bandit. This will foil attempts by thieves who can deduce your answers from social media. Of course, you have to remember what you said if you ever do have to answer the question!

• Use Privacy settings. Don’t leave personal contact info set to “public” – make sensitive info in your profiles or posts “friends only” and only connect to people you are sure you know. Review the security settings on every social platform you use. By default, many settings are set to “public” that you may not want to set that way.

• Don’t share it on the Internet. Even with all the precautions, though, nothing can be secured once it leaves your machine. Despite logins and firewalls and privacy settings, there is always a way around them. We’ve all had our data compromised by a bank or credit firm or some other company. Even if it’s a private email between you and your best friend… they may not always be your best friend forever and if you have a falling out, they have a copy of your private email. Think Snapchat pics disappear after 10 seconds? I can screenshot your pic on my device and boom, it lasts forever.

Be smart about what, where, and when you share, and you’ll be able to provide yourself with a measure of security. But remember that online security is like home security: You can’t stay up at night worrying about professionals. If there’s something in your house a professional burglar wants, no security system in the world will stop them. But you can make yourself a harder target and discourage amateurs. It’s the same online.

Just remember, the Internet is forever. If you don’t want it out there, don’t put it out there!

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