Ways to protect yourself online

I was just browsing through Digg and came across an article called Ungoogle Yourself. Because social networking sites are increasing in popularity, reputations and behavior on the internet is no longer anonymous. A lot of students get into the problem of posting pictures of themselves on their Facebook or Myspace that they wouldn’t want anyone but their friends to see. Such pictures would include them partying, holding a beer, smoking a pipe, sucking a dick, you get the picture. But with the power of Google, your new boss can find you, or worse, your mom can find you.

Teachers are getting to where they lecture their students, particularly college students, about what they post on their Myspace or Facebook accounts. Now, there’s not as much of a problem for people who are like me and have been designing websites for years. We know how to keep our online and offline lives separated because we’ve been dreading our “IRL” friends from finding our blogs and finding out about the real us.

Make an alias. It can be the Japanese word for spring or it can be an actual name you’ve always wanted to have.

If you decide you don’t want to use an alias, don’t use your last name.

If you really want to use your last name, don’t post embarrassing photos or stories because they will be found.

When posting photos, don’t post anything where you’re doing something illegal or something you wouldn’t want to show your boss, mother, daughter, etc.

Avoid drama. Can’t stress this enough. Don’t get in a flame war with some idiot and have nasty comments back and forth on each other’s websites. That’s just more search results linking to your stupidity.

Add a privacy feature. This isn’t full proof, especially for websites you don’t own, but it helps. If it is your blog, password protect any posts you might not want everyone to see. Safeguard the password and give it to people you trust.

Always safeguard any credit card information. Don’t submit anything on an insecure website that you don’t know.

Free programs to help

Mac OS X and Vista both have nice firewall software built into their operating systems. Vista’s is a little over the top, but once you disable the user account feature (where it asks permission to do anything), the firewall is quite nice. Apple’s firewall is just fine, no necessary changes.