How to protect yourself during online communication

Try to count how many different ways, resources and applications you use to communicate every day. You may be surprised that there are more ways than you think.

The most commonplace is mobile phone phones. We must acknowledge that stationary telephones are now almost extinct, and is used very rarely.

The second method that is becoming outdated – SMS. With the spread of mobile internet, sending simple text messages has become just a way to track money in your bank account or talk about promotional offers in shops.

Now let’s move on to the most interesting part. Communication on the internet, which goes unnoticed by us, through a variety of different services:

– Messengers (which each smartphone users has at least 3-5);

Social networks (and this is not only Facebook but also Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok, Twitter and dozens of more narrow-profile ones);

– Forums on a variety of topics from technology and repair to medicine and pets;

– Dating sites aimed directly at building relationships and finding a partner;

– Online video chats, not only standard ones like Skype or WhatsApp video but also a variety of chat roulettes where you can “live” chat with thousands of strangers around the world.

Often, an active user of a mobile phone communicates with his friends, family, colleagues through at least a few different instant messengers, a couple of social networks and is a visitor to at least one forum, though it may happen out of necessity. By the way, about forums: if you are now rolling your eyes at the suggestion that you are using them, think of the large-scale resources with terabytes of media content, thanks to which piracy has acquired a completely different meaning.

As a result, the issue of security with active online communication will someday confront everyone who wants to feel comfortable surfing the vast expanses of the internet. Let’s remember the 7 basic rules that should be followed during online communications.

1. Don’t hasten to talk about yourself

This may sound strange (because why else should we get to know each other and communicate with people?), but it’s not always worth to immediately talk to everyone talks about where you live, how often and what gym you visit, in what position and company you work. This information can tell a lot more about you than you think, for example:

· Your potential standard of living, based on the city and area of residence;

· what day, at what times, and how long you are away from home;

· how much you approximately earn based on your particular job position.

Maintaining at least partial anonymity in the first stages of communication is a must-have for any sensible person.

2. Don’t brag about your purchases

This point is directly related to the previous one. By the way of how often you show new things on photos and videos posted on the internet, it is easy to count the amount of your expenses, and, henceforth, your income. And you, of course, understand that this is not something that should be informed to strangers and unknown people.

3. Be careful with links

If someone from your new acquaintances (and especially strangers) sends you a link, do not rush to click on it. It can be a funny post in facebook.com, or maybe a source of viruses for your device, masked as a site which very much may resemble the social media platform facebook.com. Always pay attention to the site’s address. And if it is hidden under some phrase or word, first hover your mouse over the link to see the address without clicking on it.

4. Keep bank card information confidential

Of course, everyone remembers that the digital verification code (CVV) printed on the back of the card should never be disclosed to anyone. However, not everyone knows that sometimes it’s enough to know only the card number (yes, the one on the front) in order to use it. And even payment confirmation by SMS doesn’t always work. This is especially true for purchases from foreign e-commerce sites.

The conclusion? Do not send your Bank card photo or even its number to anyone other than your closest friends. If you need to get a transfer from someone, you can use an electronic payment system and regularly withdraw money from the account so that there is no significant amount of money left.

5. Not all files are equally secure

This is especially true for archives with the rar and zip extension, as well as executable files with the .exe extension. It is in these formats that viruses and programs are most often sent to steal your data. Think 10 times before accepting, and even more so before launching/opening such a file sent by a new acquaintance. And from an old one, too. Sometimes, our friends may not be aware of what they are sending.

6. Respect other people’s personal information

Each of us knows perfectly well that gossiping about others is, to say the least, not a very cultural and intelligent thing to do. But all the same, they do it. But it’s one thing to discuss the latest news of the royal family, and another to taunt or complain about the problems of your acquaintances, friends, colleagues from work. It’s like walking on very thin ice. After all, when you least expect, it may be a friend of your acquaintance on the other side, who, of course, will not hide such information from the other.

Believe me, at the very least, it will be extremely embarrassing for you when your colleague comes to work and instead of saying “good morning” will ask what other details of his or her life you managed to discuss with the whole internet.

7. Use proved and reliable services

It’s not enough just to check the site address that you are proceeding to open: every service, platform or application should be reliable from the very beginning. Everything is clear with the major social media networks: Twitter and Facebook have been known for a long time (although the latter occasionally has security issues). But what about dating sites and video chats?

We will try to help you with this matter and talk about services that are considered decent and trustworthy.

Dating sites

Match.com

One of the very first and oldest sites aimed at helping people from all over the world in finding a partner for serious relationships. It was launched in the early 90’s. A significant part of the functionality is by paid subscriptions.

Pof.com

A Canadian dating site, the name of which literally means “a lot of fish”, was released in 2003. One of the few services that “hit the spotlight” in partnership with first-rate stars such as Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Britney Spears. POF has mobile applications for Android and iOS, as well as a partner selection process developed on the basis of the site statistics.

Zoosk.com

It was born primarily as a Facebook application. Zoosk was not considered as a full-fledged dating site for a long time, but things have changed over time. Today, the service offers a unique technology for potential partner search, developed on the basis of their data on more than 35 million people. The site has users from 80 countries. Plus, there is an official mobile app.

OkCupid.com

The site was created in 2004 by four friends from Harvard University. In 2014, OkCupid became not just a service for finding a mate, but a unique platform representing 22 genders and 13 orientation options, which became revolutionary in its own way among similar resources. The annual visitors to the site amounted to 91 million people. Partner selection is based on thousands of different questions that allow you to describe each user as accurately as possible and thus select a relevant partner.

Eharmony.com

A dating site created in 2000, with its own matchmaking system developed by a real-life practicing psychologist named Neil Clark. To register on the site, you need to fill out a large questionnaire, after which the service will begin to select suitable people for you to meet. The Eharmony site is paid, but it has free features available to new users.

Badoo.com

A relatively young platform for finding a partner and building relationships: prevalent since 2011. However, this does not prevent the site from actively developing an already broad functionality, which is quite close to full-format social media networks. Using Badoo is free, but has limitations. Its advantages are the presence of not only the browser version but also mobile applications, convenient management of “swipes” and photo-verification of all new users.

Tinder.com

Today, Tinder, in all modesty, can be called one of the most renowned dating services. The use of “swipe” for expressing consent or refusal to meet is an idea of Tinder, which today has become almost mandatory for similar applications. The platform is mainly used in mobile format. Basic features are free, but you will need to pay extra for additional gimmicks and greater flexibility of options.

Video chats

Omegle.com

The oldest and most well-known random online video chat. Minimalistic both in design and in functionality. The main task is to connect site visitors to strangers via a webcam.

Chatroulette.com

Perhaps the most popular random chat-roulette created just a few months after Omegle. The service has experienced periods of the extraordinary rise and bitter fall but is still very popular in its field. The weakness was, in fact, the lack of user control, because of which, from time to time, different anatomical virtues, which not everyone likes, “popped out” in the chat instead of users’ faces.

CooMeet.com

Specialized online video chat for chatting with girls. And not just girls, but carefully selected and tested for “purity of intentions”. So if you are in search of your destiny, CooMeet is the perfect place to try your luck.

CamSurf.com

A random video chat, available both as a regular website, as well as a mobile application, which significantly expands its potential audience and usability.

ChatRandom.com

One of the relatively young chat roulettes, developed in 2011, which, however, has become a cluster center for a large number of users: it claims about 4 million people. ChatRandom, in addition to the main random video chat, offers its visitors virtual “masks” for maintaining anonymity, chat settings, text correspondence, and interest parameter settings.

What is the conclusion?

Security and “healthy” anonymity remain a vital necessity when communicating online. Yes, we readily confirm: on the Internet, you can build strong friendships and find true love, but, like in real – offline – communication, do not rush too much and don’t be guided by the naive idea that everyone is always honest with you. Unfortunately, we alone can often guarantee our own peace and security.

Material is written in partnership with coomeet.com/anonymous

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