What you do online can have an impact on not just your safety but the safety of others as well. If you’re not careful, you might jeopardize the privacy of your family and friends. Since they’re related to you, any scam that you may fall for can risk their online lives too.

If you remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the simple “Facebook quiz app” stole the information of people who used the app as well as the details of their Facebook friends as well.

When you follow best practices for online safety, you keep yourself safe and protect your friends’ information.

Here are some tips you can follow to make sure your friends’ and family’s information is not revealed online.

Check permissions

When you install an app, it will ask for certain permissions. Many users just click on accept without giving it a second thought. However, this behavior can put your friends at risk of data theft. If you install an app and it needs access to your contacts, be careful.

If you’re installing a game, it has no need to access your contacts list. If it asks for your contacts list, it just wants to harvest the metadata. This is a simple trick to mine data and get information about your contacts. If an app has no business getting into your contact list, make sure you refuse the permission – even if you think it’s a really exciting app. It’s not worth losing your privacy and the privacy of your friends.

And if you really do need the app, just create another email address. Now if you grant access to your contacts, there is no data the app can steal. It will just be like an extra email address to store spam messages.

Don’t link all accounts with Facebook

When you try to sign into any new website, you’ll notice that they present a very nifty little option – no need to register your details, just log into with your Facebook credentials. While it’s certainly convenient, the more websites you link with your Facebook account, the bigger map you create about your user persona.

When all websites are connected to a common link – Facebook credentials, they can share data with each other. This means they will access not just your personal information but also the information of your Facebook friends. This way, you jeopardize the security of not just your account but the accounts of others as well.

Keep an eye on what you share online

While it’s recommended not to overshare your details on social media platforms like Facebook, many people still go ahead and share their private details. However, make sure that you keep your settings for friends only. This way, your photos will not be revealed to the general public.

If you’re planning to share photos of a trip you took with friends, ask them before you tag them. They might not want to reveal the details of the trip with others. In general, it’s good to not share any private photos at all, no matter how compelled you might feel to share your personal moments with others.

And tagging your friends isn’t just bad for your online safety. It can affect your relationships as well. A research has shown the tagging your friends in photos they might think are embarrassing can ruin your relationship with them. Moral of the story – stay away from tagging everyone in your group photos.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

You can find free Wi-Fi at places such as restaurants, coffee houses, and airports. While you may trust the network set up by a restaurant, it could be set up by hackers and renamed as the same name as that of the restaurant.

These free networks are actually honeypots. When you connect to them, all your activities are visible to hackers. This includes any username or passwords that you use to log into your accounts.

If you’re emailing a friend or are chatting with someone, all these details will be visible to the hackers. This means they will have not just your information but the information about your friends as well.

If you want to access a public Wi-Fi, make sure you use a VPN. A VPN will encrypt your data so the people snooping on the connection will receive only garbled messages which will not mean anything to them.

A VPN will keep you protected not just on public Wi-Fi connections but also on your regular internet connection.

Keep the home assistants off when you don’t use them

If you use home assistants such as Alexa, keep them off when not using them. Since these assistants are always listening to the sounds around them, they can be hacked to keep tabs on you and your family. To keep yourself and your loved ones protected from such snooping, turn off the assistants when you’re not using them.

These devices are designed in such a way that they are always listening on the conversations around them, trying to hear the command that activates them. To gain your personal information, a hacker just needs to find a vulnerability in your system and hack into it. Stay safe by avoiding the overuse of such gadgets.

Update your software

Regular updates will make sure that any bugs that might creep up in your system are fixed. Since your device contains the contact information of your online friends, keeping yourself protected will help in protecting their privacy as well.

Check for app updates and apply patches as soon as they arrive. This will make sure that any vulnerabilities that might have developed in the apps have been fixed.

Be wary before you click on links and read about how hackers try to steal your data. Staying vigilant is the best thing you can do to stay protected. The internet can be an unsafe place if you don’t exercise caution. Keep your details safe and this will help you keep your friends’ and family’s information private as well.