1. Location, location, location. If there's any way for anyone to find
out your home address online, don't use locator services such as
Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places while away. If you're
determined to post about having been to the hottest bar or club, wait
and check in when leaving. And never check in at home. There are
aggregate sites that compile such data into a handy thief sheet for
2. Choose friends carefully. Only accept requests from actual friends.
Security expert Jason Hart of CRYPTOCard Network Security compares a
Facebook friend request from someone you don't know to inviting "a
perfect stranger into your house simply because they knocked on your
door and said they wanted a look around." If you have hundreds of
"friends," set up a friend list with your actual close friends on it --
not everyone you once met at a party -- and change custom privacy
settings so that only these people see what you're up to. This includes
setting privacy filters for any photo albums you load while away.
3. Keep certain info quiet. Don't list your home address anywhere
online -- even on event invites. For similar safety reasons, don't list
your kids' names, your birth date, phone number or social security
number. Always ask yourself what malicious eyes could do with
information before you post.
4. Don't boast-post. Don't post about the incredible new $3,000 MacBook
Pro or expensive jewelry you just got. Think about what's in photos
that you post of your home and possessions. Is that a shiny new flat
screen TV in the background of those party pictures? Those photos show
potential thieves what you've got and even which room it's in.
5. Learn without learning the hard way. If you're going to upload
information, photos or activity details, take time to locate and
understand privacy and application settings on Facebook.
6. Silence is golden. Cyber-silence is usually the best insurance,
whether you're going for vacation or for lunch, but prolific posters
may want to update with a few strategic, innocuous posts that seem to
be coming from home -- the social networking equivalent of putting your
lights on a timer.