5 tips to avoid exposing your identity online

5 tips to avoid exposing your identity online

Many of us probably think we're safe online. We use security software, keep our updates up to date and our passwords are stored safely but the digital safety advert from Barclays highlights just how easy it is to reveal vital information online without even realising it.


Many of us probably think we’re safe online. We use security software, keep our updates up to date and our passwords are stored safely but the digital safety advert from Barclays highlights just how easy it is to reveal vital information online without even realising it.

After a train journey last week it made me realise just how oblivious some people are to security issues when they are on the phone, as well as posting on their social media profiles.

One passenger in the middle of a packed train carriage was on the phone to his mobile phone provider making a payment and setting up a direct debit in the loudest voice ever.

So, as well as his name, address, and phone provider we also all know his debit card number, expiry date, bank account number, sort code and mobile number!

A few of us on the train joked about going on a spending spree with him paying the bill but it really shouldn’t have been a laughing matter.

The passenger in question was completely oblivious, not only to the dangers of everything he was revealing but also just how annoying he was – but that’s for another day.

5 tips to avoid exposing your identity online

Be careful what you share

We all love showing off on social media and in particular sharing photos from our holidays but revealing you’re out of the country, and your house, is empty is never a good idea.

The same can be said for tagging yourself at events and places which also reveals just how far you are from home at any given time. Maybe a wiser move would be to post images and updates after the event when you’re not putting your home at risk.

Don’t share any of your documents

This might seem like an obvious one but it’s amazing how many posts on social media include passports, driving licenses and especially boarding cards – a particular favourite on Facebook as people show how they are “living the dream” without realising just how much information can be extracted.

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Disable geolocation on your images

Even if you think you’re being careful when you post on social media by not giving your location away, your images could be revealing a very different story. The metadata of your images could be revealing exactly where you are and where you’ve been.

Anyone with access to your social media profiles can use the information to work out where you live, where you work and where you are when you post thanks to the data stored in your images.

Google yourself

Do you know what information about you is already out there on the World Wide Web? No? Well, get googling.

Search engines are always up to date so will reveal everything there is to know from a now out of date profile on a now unused social media platform right through to your latest tweet!

In the current climate of cat-fishing, it’s also worth keeping an eye on people pretending to be you online by doing a reverse search on your social media images.

Visit images.google.com and either upload your image or search using an image URL. This will reveal:

  • Similar images

  • Sites that use the image

  • And other sizes of the images which exist.

Stay private

All of the previous tips are vital but you can go a long way to correcting any issues by simply changing the privacy settings of your social media accounts. Most networks allow you to be as public or as private as you like, ranging from people having to ask permission to access your updates through to every man and his dog being able to view all your posts, information and friends.

So you can decide just how much of your soul is bared to your friends and family and then the rest of the outside world.

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Author Details
Founder & CEO at Hedgehog Security

Peter has been in the Information Security world since 1999 and in IT in general since 1996. His work history contains a unique blended balance between the development of exceptional technical capabilities and business knowledge. Peter is a proud father of twins and enjoys GT endurance racing on the weekends.

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