• Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see.

• Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it might be for a hacker, thief, or stalker to commit a crime.

• Install a security suite (antivirus, antispyware, and firewall) that is set to update automatically.

• Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile for trusted friends.

• Let a friend know if he or she posts information about you that makes you uncomfortable.

• If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove the person from your friends list, block the person, and report the incident to the site administrator.

• Make sure that your password is long, complex, and combines, letters, numerals, and symbols. Ideally, you should use a different password for every online account you have.

• Be cautious about messages you receive on social networking sites that contain links. Even links that look they come from friends can sometimes contain malware or be part of a phishing attack.

• Be aware that people you meet online might be nothing like they describe themselves, and they might not even be the gender they claim.

• Flirting with strangers online could have serious consequences. Because some people lie about who they really are, you never really know who you’re dealing with.

Copyright (c) 2011, the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Visit the Sun Sentinel online at www.sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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