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There are a few things that you can do to help ensure you remain as safe as possible when online and in particular when using social media.

Understanding your digital footprint allows you to control what information is shared and who that information is accessible to.

If you think there is something missing from the sections below, please get in touch.


Think about whether you really need to add your phone number to your social media profiles for others to search for. The more contact information you share online, the easier it is for individuals to target you for fraud. Most apps will automatically retrieve and add your contact information on your behalf so be wary!

Assess your friends lists - what is the benefit of having that 'friend' in your social network? And, if you don't know them in person, how do you know they are who they say they are?


When using social media, be careful if using location services - they could make it easy for people to find out where you live, work or visit.

Do people on your social networks need to see your hometown? Or the town where you currently live?

Could sharing your location be used against you, for example if you share that you are going on holiday, which tells anyone who can see that that your property is likely to be empty for a few days?

Webcams and video chat

Remote Access Trojans (RATs) can be used to access your webcam without you knowing. This is known as 'Ratting'. For your own peace of mind, consider covering them when they are not in use so that, should anyone gain access, they won't see anything you don't want them to.

If you have been a victim of sextortion or webcam blackmail, you can find help and advice in the 'What do I do if' section of the website.


Check your privacy settings are established so that only those you're happy to share information, photos and posts with can see them. It is good practice to keep as much of your personal information as you can away from anyone outside of your friendship circle as this can be used against you by fraudsters.

Password management

To keep your profiles and information as secure as possible, use strong and unique passwords for each account. There are many password manager apps available to help you with this.

Also check your password recovery memorable questions - how easy are they for someone to guess the answer to? Could someone read the answer from your social media profile? Make these as secure as you can and, if limited by 'easy' questions, consider giving a 'false' answer or adding a number to your answer.

Other things you can do

Check your accounts and platforms - are there any you no longer use? If so, deactivate or delete your accounts to ensure they cannot be hacked without you knowing.

Regularly review and re-assess your friends on social media accounts - if they no longer use their accounts, consider removing them from your friends to protect yourself should their accounts be compromised.


If using public Wi-Fi, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to keep your browsing and information private and, for any particularly sensitive tasks such as internet banking, use 3G or 4G which are more secure.

Consider your Digital Footprint (the information that exists about you online) and how a positive / negative one could impact you or your children.

Download and install updates to software and operating systems as soon as they are available as they often contain security fixes.

Gloucestershire Constabulary's Safer Cyber Twitter feed


Page last updated: 18 January 2018