Personal data and privacy

Your CV is up to date, and you’re applying for positions, but what other personal information might a prospective employer find? Tim Stackpool shares a few suggestions on keeping your private life private.

The mere action of browsing the internet can build a picture of your interests, your spending, and your favourite restaurants. And while it is impossible to ensure your personal habits are never catalogued, here are a few tips you should follow if you want to minimise your digital footprint.

Search Dogpile instead of Google

When using Google, the search engine giant creates a profile over time of the types of results that you best respond to. Dogpile (www.dogpile.com) is a metasearch engine that gets its results from multiple search engines before presenting the information to you.

According to Dogpile, this means their technology provides better results than other search engines, and as such creates no profile of your searches, giving you a ‘clean’ result every time. This of course comes with some limitations, and if you are a power Google user, you might be disappointed with the lack of features.

Go Incognito

If you use a shared computer, Incognito is a special mode available on most popular browsers that helps hide your online activities from other users of the computer.

This mode is known as different names on different browsers, but all versions delete the history of any websites you may visit during the session, saves no information you may enter in forms you fill out and deletes any ‘cookies’ that you might collect along the way.

However, be aware that even in this mode, your online antics can still be tracked by your Internet Service Provider, your IT department, and the government.

Facebook

The privacy settings on Facebook are selected differently depending on whether you are using Facebook on a web browser or via the app on an iPhone or Android device. Most importantly, your posts should be shared only with ‘Friends’.

It’s also important to ensure that only your friends can see your other connections, if at all. Otherwise hackers and scammers might clone your profile and then target everyone on your friend list to connect with the bogus account. If the scammer can’t see who you are friends with, then it’s virtually impossible for them to connect with your contacts.

Also, be cautious about participating in third party Facebook apps and games (such as ‘What celebrity are you most like?’). These can often reveal your private information to the developer of the app, and expose your friend list to them.

LinkedIn

It might seem strange to include the world’s premier online professional networking platform in a list of services to be wary of, but ask any colleagues and you’ll hear stories about how some users think it’s an alternative dating site.

As with any online publishing, be cautious about announcing a new job in a new city (which can reveal your location and building), or heading off to an interstate or international conference. Some LinkedIn users prefer to leave such posts until the day after they have returned (unless you are using the post as a form of advertising).

It might also be of advantage to know how to block a LinkedIn member from viewing your activity. This is especially important if you want to keep competitors from knowing your strategy. To do so, navigate to the profile of the person you’d like to block, then click the MORE button below the member’s profile picture and select Report/Block from the list.

Applying these ideas to other places you visit online will help to keep your personal details away from those who seek to do more harm than good.

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