Maintaining privacy in a connected world

Today’s online environment keeps us connected—to friends and family, business connections, education, social issues, interests, and entertainment. With information sharing so readily accessible, it is easy to lose sight of how many personal details we share online. Yet, an overshare of information on social media can lead to personal privacy compromises, including identify theft, scams and even reputational loss.

To maintain your privacy in our interconnected world, keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Protect your information. To ensure your sensitive account data remains private, ensure you have a strong and unique password for every site you use. Use reputable password management software to keep track of your complex passwords and set up 2-Factor Authentication (2FA), whenever possible. See also Two-Factor Authentication at NC State.               
  • Use secure networks. Public wifi networks are not secure and can leave your communications and data vulnerable to hackers. Use VPN or other known, secure networks, especially when transmitting sensitive data, such as banking or credit card information. Use public connections only for Web browsing, and log off as soon as you are done.
  • Transmit data securely. Ensure websites where you enter your personal data are protected by HTTPS. If https:// displays in the address bar, the personal data you transmit will be encrypted.
  • Disable location identification settings. If your social media site has a feature to include your location when posting, disable this setting. Keeping your whereabouts private safeguards your personal security and belongings by preventing unwanted individuals from knowing where you are and when you are not at home.
  • Separate personal and professional accounts. Keep personal emails and accounts separate from professional ones, such as for school and work. Remember that employers and other professional organizations have full access to anything you share on their networks. Also remember that what you publicly post on social media may be viewed by anyone, including employers; so, ensure your posts reflect you in a positive light.
  • Know your content. Keep track of your online presence and posted content. Remove past posts that could compromise your privacy, such as those that reveal your home or work location, birth date or other private information. Regularly check privacy settings on your accounts to ensure updates don’t change your public visibility.
  • Keep private content private. Be mindful of what you choose to post online. If it’s not something you’d write on a postcard or a billboard or say in a social situation, don’t share it.  Remember, everything you share is free-game for others to capture and repost. Don’t let something written in a rash moment compromise your privacy or reputation.
  • Keep it positive. Maintain the golden rule of ethics by only posting content about others that you would feel comfortable having posted about you.

For additional data security tips, see: