There are many precautions you can take to ensure your own safety and privacy. These include the following:
- Content Filtering: restricting the type of content which can be viewed on your machine
- Monitoring and Reporting User Behaviour: keeping an eye on the behaviour of other users and reporting anything inappropriate.
- Withholding Personal Information: keeping the amount of information that can be viewed online to a minimum.
- Using Non-trivial Usernames and Passwords: avoiding the use of easily-guessed or easily cracked passwords.
Your digital footprint is the term used to describe the trail or traces that you leave online by registering for forums or social networking sites, sending emails or uploading videos or images. Every time you do something online you increase the size of your digital footprint.
The following steps can help to protect against Internet threats such as grooming. They apply to chat rooms and online messaging services, such as MSN Messenger, as well as social networking sites like Facebook, Bebo and YouTube.
- Always be cautious about any information you give when using the Internet, eg: if you wish to participate in a chat room use a suitable nickname and never reveal any personal information such as where you live or go to school.
- Use throwaway e-mail addresses, eg: Hotmail or Yahoo addresses that you can simply discard if anyone starts harassing you in any way.
- Always assume that any information and pictures you put on the Internet can be viewed by the entire world.
- Beware of giving information about yourself that you consider too trivial to withhold. The more information you put on-line then the more there is for someone to put together about you.
- Always be suspicious of what you are being offered on the Internet, eg: gifts, prizes and money. There are many hidden dangers that could compromise your system, eg: a hacker/groomer might try to send you a virus hidden in a picture or some other file, eg: a game, so that they can get access to your system.
- Try to keep your Internet activity in actively moderated and open environments and stay away from chat rooms and other sites that may have people in them that you do not want to communicate with, eg: hate newsgroups.