By Holly Reisem Hanna
The Internet is a wonderful thing.
It has allowed thousands, maybe even millions of women to stay at home and earn a living doing something that they love. It has allowed families to achieve better work-life balance and it has allowed small startups to flourish with free and low cost online business options.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are scammers, cyber bullies, malicious hackers, and downright criminals who want to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals.
So, how can we as women run promote and run our online businesses, while keeping our privacy, safety, and security intact?
Here are some ways to protect yourself when working and promoting your business online.
Limit how much contact information you have out there. Whether it’s on your social networking profiles or on your website, don’t include your home phone number, physical address or year that you were born. The less information that is out, the harder it is for criminals to steal your identity.
For mail correspondence set up a P.O. box. Not only will this hide your home address from the public, but it’s good for your email marketing campaigns too. If you are participating in email marketing, your email marketing provider will make you list a physical address, which is then seen on the bottom of every email campaign that you send out. Along with this, make sure that your home phone and address are unlisted in your local telephone directory.
While geo-tracking can be great if you get lost on a hiking trail, it could be putting your day to day safety at risk. Location based mobile platforms like Four Square allow users to share their current location, thus allowing individuals in the same area to connect. While this may be a great way to connect and market your business, it definitely puts you at risk, especially if you’re traveling alone.
Not worried, because you’re not using Four Square or Gowalla? Think again, popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter are using similar geotagging technology to track your whereabouts. Make sure to turn these features off and set your privacy settings accordingly. Nobody needs to know where you’re at 24-7.
Every day I am bombarded with email phishing scams, from fake PayPal account closures to “I want to send you money – give me your personal information” emails. Don’t fall for these scams. If you think one of your accounts has been compromised, call up the institution and talk to a representative. Rule of thumb, delete all unsolicited emails containing attachments and make sure not to open them up – they could contain a virus. Also delete your trash folder on a regular basis. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Do you love taking photos with your smart phone and sharing them with your friends online? This again could put you at risk. Most smart phones are equipped with a geo tagging feature that allows individuals to track exactly where you are just from the photo you took and uploaded from your phone. Luckily there is an easy fix. Just go in to your smart phone’s settings and disable this feature.
Don’t Over Share:
I can even count how many times I’ve seen friends share on Facebook or Twitter, “We’re on vacation”! While being on vacation is fun and exciting, sharing this information while you’re away is an open invite for criminals to break into your house. Limit the amount and type of information that you share online. Post those vacation photos when you return from the vacation.
From keeping an eye on your online reputation to monitoring your accounts and financial information, you need to constantly be aware of what’s going on around you. Nipping the issue in the bud will save you lots of time and frustration.
With a well thought plan and constant monitoring, you can reap the benefits of working online while keeping your privacy, safety and security intact.
How do you promote and run your business online, while keeping your privacy and safety secure?