Protect yourself while online shopping, socializing

Reported by Claire Hosmann – bio |email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As more people turn to social networking sites to promote their business or maintain friendships, the risk of exposing yourself to the wrong people increases.

And if you're not careful, your privacy and security can get violated.

Many sites are amping up their security to keep users safe from handing out their personal information to the wrong sources, but even though some sites are touting new "privacy" controls, you need to stay aware of what you're putting online.

One of the biggest concerns among officials and parents when it comes to online privacy is social networking sites. These sites ask for very detailed information, and not surprisingly, many people don't think twice before exposing their names, age, phone numbers, or email addresses. All of this information makes it very easy for someone to find them and possibly steal their identity.

Corporal Jerry Brewer from the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office advises to keep your guard up when it comes to revealing yourself online.

"Facebook is not as secure as everyone wants to believe that it is, putting a lot of your personal information on there is probably not the best idea," said Brewer. "That's not to say that you can't have a profile and friends, but realize that you do have the possibility of your info getting released or have someone hacking the site and getting your information."

Here's how you know if a site is a secure. Look at the address bar at the top of the site. If it says, http-followed by the rest of the address, it is not secure. If it says HTTPS.-then its secure. That "S" stands for secure, and it means you can trust the site with your personal information, such as credit card numbers.

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