Please fave the news article (to the left)
Many of you have probably heard of Internet Security or Internet Safety before. Whether it was from your parents when you were 8, or from others later in life. It is something that changes often, but the main idea and ways that you should protect your personal information have stayed the same.
We are going to dive into some of what can happen, and help you protect yourself.
Special thanks to $Moonbeam13, $fourteenthstar, `PurpelBlur and `Steph1254 for being willing to help me with this article.
Myself and `Steph1254 wanted to bring this news article to you as we have both had bad experiences online when people have asked for personal information (in very different ways).
Quote from `TimberClipse
"On my time on dA as well as other forums and such, I have never given out information. Due to this I have been called names, and harassed because I chose safety over publicity. The reason I did not do this is simply a personal safety one. I don't want my information out there, and it shouldn't matter to other deviants or users. If someone is going to treat me differently because of my age, race, etc. why would that make me want to give out information?
I have even sometimes been cornered into being asked constantly about posting images of myself, or revealing information. Although these were harmless situations, they weren't exactly something I enjoyed. I always managed to have them stop after a while, but it sometimes took going offline.
Because of that I wanted to write an article that could potentially serve to help others. I hope it will!"
Quote from an "interview" with `Steph1254 about a bad experience
Basically, it started when they came into a chatroom I frequent in, and we started to talk about some stuff. I didn't think there was anything strange about them, I just talked to them like I talked to any other deviant. We talked about basic things, interests and that sort of thing. Nothing out of the ordinary.
They invited me into their own chatroom because they were getting some bother off a lot of the other regulars in the chat we talked in, so I figured it'd be an easier option and went there to talk to them instead. It was ok to begin with, we just talked about logical things, nothing too bad really, just simple views on simple things. But eventually they started getting a bit weird, and that continued to increase more and more. They told me that if I didn't want my dad to see my laptop stuff, they knew a way I could put an extra lock on in front of the start up lock that required a password.
They told me loads of computer knowledge stuff I could hack to make myself extra 'protected', so they obviously knew quite a lot about computers (or at least that's the impression they gave off). Eventually I found out that they were actually much older than me, which didn't phase me too much since I'm considered mature for my age, so talking to older people has never been a problem, but "
" then they started to get much more disturbing, and began to ask really personal questions, Like 'do you masturbate' and things like that. They tried to get me to take photos of myself eating food. They just kept asking loads of creepy things that were really uncomfortable to read, basically. When it clicked what they were doing and I realized that something was wrong, I tried to escape from them and said that it was time for me to go
Then they started to note me. They told me that I'm a malicious person who only makes friends with people to get what I want, then I discard them like they're nothing once I'm done. That I'll never be a good friend to anyone, and that they thought I was mature enough to be considered an adult, lots of really harsh and hurtful things that I can still remember, and that still to some extent affect me today. This continued for a while, but because I didn't get any screencaps of the incidents, I was unable to report the person."
For that reason, Steph1254 asked to become part of this article as well.
Releasing your information
For those of you that know me personally, you know that I have never released a photo of myself, never told my age, location, phone number, or real name. Not even first name.
But why do I make these choices? I have a very good reason for each...
As much as it may pain you to hear this, everyone puts a bias on people because of their age (either on purpose, or sub-consciously) If they are young, they are immature. If they are middle aged, then it makes sense for them to spend a lot of time on a website. If they are older, then they are expected to be calm and wiser.
So why give someone a chance to profile you? Just dont give out your age and people will treat you based on how you act, not just on your age.
Also if youre under 13, just leave now... Its not allowed for you to be on dA or on most websites. And in all honesty not smart either.
Never, ever, ever, EVER give your location out. Country or state, thats fine. No one can track you further than a large area of land, you are safe. The reason not to share this information isnt just that the deviant you are talking to could use it against you, but on any Internet website, it is instantly public. If you are, for example, in a dAmn chat room, you say that your address is
Cherry Tree Lane in Australia, 67890
Everyone in that chat room will be able to see it.
This information will allow people to find you. People you may have never met anywhere.
Phone numbers are simple reason. Spam. Lets say you post your phone number, it could be seen by someone else, then sold to a company that will use your cell number to send you calls or texts that can be ads. All of a sudden you are getting ads about hats, and umbrellas, and if you just text this number back with your credit card number, you will get a free $500 gift certificate for WalMart!.
I also once had a friend who had someone else in his area start texting him and stalking him. By stalking we mean this: One person knows you well (attacker), the other doesnt know anything about the other (target). In this case, the target was sent 112 text messages in under 12 hours. Note that he didnt have unlimited texting either...
These can come so fast sometimes that you dont even realize what is happening, and saying Shut up or Stop often wont do anything.
So to limit this, simply dont give out your number to anyone except those you fully trust.
Names can be used to find your location, age, place of work, address, phone number, and a lot more! Some websites now even allow people to look up criminal history through their name (of course for a cost).
To demonstrate why it is important to be careful with your name I attempted something.
I decided to pick a random name, I had no affiliation with at all, David Howe
Then used Google to search the name.
Lets say I already knew he lived in, lets say Connecticut, US, that he was about 55 (plus or minus 4) years old, and that was it. This is all information that a lot of deviants share.
Using White Pages, This is what I found: [link]
Now to narrow down further, they have a listing for someone living in CT who is 55-59 years old. That matches!
So all of a sudden, that listing tells me a lot. Name (including middle initial), address, phone number, and there is an ad at the bottom that tells me I can look up marriages, divorces, birth records, death records and more!
Please be aware, I do not even know a David Howe, it was a random name I chose, and I claim no record of whether this person in fact exists
Although any one of these pieces of information is likely not enough to do anything to you, as a whole, or as just enough to look you up, can really hurt you.
Reporting Attacks On dA
If you ever find yourself in a position where a deviant is harassing you emotionally, or in another harmful way (through threats, taunts, etc) then it is crucial that you report it in order for the situation to be resolved.
Harassment can happen through many areas of dA:
- Chat Rooms
- Private Notes
- Hate Accounts
And while some may seem to be less of an issue than others, all forms of insecurity can be very damaging if they go too far - regardless of form.
Luckily, in deviantARTs chat system there are rules implemented which mean that personal info such as your age, email addresses and personal websites arent permitted to be shared, and while this rule is encouraged to be followed through in all independently ran chat rooms, it is often something which gets neglected.
In order to make sure you stay safe, and to prevent you from finding yourself in situations where you may feel that your security online is not at its best, it is important that you are very careful with your personal information and who you share it with. If you feel you trust a person enough to give out your email address, make sure that you tell them it in a private manner (ie. not in a busy chat room filled with other users), and if you do feel it necessary that they have access to your email, make sure that you know you can trust that person.
You can also always make a "SpamMail" account, as I like to call them. An email that you don't care if it gets shared as your name, and all other information is not connected to it. The email I give out on dA is exactly this.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe and uncomfortable with the way a deviantART user (or any user on a social networking site) is acting towards you, you need to make sure that you keep your distance from them, and if the situation is serious, report them. If the incident occurred in a chat room then taking screen captures of the event as evidence is recommended, as it proves the incident has actually occurred and it gives the staff something to work with instead of just a finger pointing.
We suggest that if you can manage to screen capture any event (Apple + Shift + 3 on Macintosh Computers, and on a Windows computer Alt + Print screen -More information for Windows computers can be found here: [link] ) prior to leaving the incident, or deleting it (if it was for example, a personal message), you can ensure that action will be taken against the user.
Once you have reported the harassment, you need to make sure that you do what you can to keep away from the person who caused the problem. Be this through blocking them from your page, banning them from your chat room, by any means possible make sure that you stop them from contacting you. This will keep you safe from the person, and it will prevent them from being able to cause any more trouble.
Blocking People on dA
On deviantART if an individual is harassing you, you may block them! To do this simply follow these steps:
- Go to your settings (Scroll over your name to see the settings button)
- Go to the General tab
- Scroll down, and you will see a white box allowing you to put in names of users you wish to block.
- Simply put in the deviants username (no :dev tag needed)
Removing Your Name
Although you are in control of what you choose to display, some information like, for example, if you were mentioned in a news article, might be publicly available without your knowledge.
It is always smart to use search sites like Google, Yahoo, etc. to search your name every now and then. If you see something that represents you badly, ask the person who posted it to remove it.
I would very much suggest setting up your own domain using your name. For example, if my name was John Doe, purchase for 10 bucks a year JohnDoe.com. If you dont want to use your full name, use part of it. If you are making a portfolio, get JohnPortfolio.com
This will give you a way to keep others from creating websites about you that could misrepresent you, and hurt you in getting a job or other such things.
Website creators like Google Sites, Freewebs, Etc. are all great ways to set up simple websites.
Facebook, Twitter, etc.
It is instantly viewable.
Most likely even if your settings are set to friends only, others can still find it. On Twitter for example, it may show up on live feeds with a key word on Google, even if the viewer may be unable to see other posts on your account.
Please be cautious when using these web sites pictures of yourself partying, or even things you might post can later haunt you when you are looking for a job, or in your job.
For example, a story was released about a man who posted on Facebook that he was wasted, but emailed the HR that he was on a 1 day medical leave Turns out HR saw his Facebook profile, and he later got in trouble for it. (See the full story here: [link] )
When using Credit Cards, or Passwords, you might like a little more security to ensure that the information you are putting in cant be stolen. You can see if you are on a secure connection by looking at that otherwise seemingly useless part of your URL:
To explain the difference, I am going to show a quote from BizTech:
Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTPS) is for all practical purposes HTTP. The chief distinction is that it uses TCP Port 443 by default, so HTTP and HTTPS are two separate communications. HTTPS works in conjunction with another protocol, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), to transport data safely.
So essentially, if you want to ensure your data is safe, look for that extra s and you can know that your data is safer!
Being Asked For Information
It is important to be aware that most websites including deviantART will never ask you revealing information such as your name, etc.
If you are ever asked this information by someone who is pretending to be an administrator or staff member of a website, we suggest that you quickly report them to a real administrator.
We also suggest that you do not give out passwords lightly, (even to a spouse/etc.) and to be cautious when entering them on other computers as their computers may remember your information.
References For You
How to Screen Capture on Windows
Report an issue on deviantART
Block a deviant
FAQ #238: How do I report people for abuse, harassment, or another issue I think is a problem?