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Online Personal Safety

Two students taking a selfie with their mobile phone.

Being safe online starts with taking simple precautions to protect yourself and your privacy.

While there are incredible benefits to the internet, there are also risks and security issues involving its use. Some of these include being subject to cyberbullying, online harassment, frauds and scams. Take some time to get to know someone before sharing too much personal information with them. We hope these safety tips empower you to take action. 

Protect your privacy

When signing up for social networks, consider using a pseudonym or an iteration of your name so that your full name is not easily accessed.

Be careful not to share posts or pictures that divulge critical information like your car’s license plate, home address, passport or driver’s license number. Consider turning off geo-tagging on your phone and on social media. Once an image is shared with others, anyone may be able to see it, download it, track it and share it.

Search for yourself through online search engines and check to see what information is readily accessible. Determine what steps can be taken to remove information you don’t want to be available. Check privacy settings on all your social media accounts to ensure that what you’re sharing is only being seen by people you approve of first.

Password protect all your electronic devices like computers, tablets, laptops and smartphones. Don’t share passwords to your social media or email accounts where sensitive information about you is stored. Regular password changes are no longer the recommended practice because of the way hackers compile password lists and then systematically use every username-password combination to hack an account. Constant changing of passwords rather helps hackers build their database. Instead, create complex passwords that can not be easily guessed. If your device is stolen and does not have a password, personal information, photos and more will be vulnerable.

Think before you post

Anything you send and share online (even in private messages and emails) can be downloaded, saved and shared instantaneously with others, intentionally or otherwise. If you are about to share a post or photo that you only want a specific person or specific group to see, know that there is a risk that it could be shared further than you intended.

While you may be eager to share photos and information of your activities, we advise that you don’t post your pictures until after you have left the area where the photo was taken. Ensure that geo-tagging features have been turned off, otherwise it’s easy for anyone to find you, or know that you’re not at home. You may not want to divulge details like how long you’ll be away on vacation, or have personal conversations on open social media platforms which share personal details. Others may be able to easily access this information and use it to their advantage.

Protect yourself when meeting someone you met online

Take precautions before meeting in person with someone you met online. Tell someone you trust, such as a friend, roommate or family member about where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Give them any information you have about the person you are meeting, such as their name, phone number, email address, etc. Make a plan to check in with friends with a phone call at an agreed upon time.

Sometimes people use a photo of another person to hide their identity. While it’s not always possible to confirm that someone is who they claim to be, increase your safety by asking them to chat via webcam so that you can see what they look like or ask them to write down a specific word on a piece of paper and take a picture of themselves while holding this up.

Arrange to meet the person in a public place rather than sharing your address or workplace with them.

Report a crime or suspicious activity

On campus, if you experience suspicious activity, be sure to report it to TMU Security and Emergency Services at 416-979-5040 or extension 555040 from any internal campus phone.

Get help

If you are harassed, stalked or intimidated online, ask for help.

In an emergency, call 911.

Contact us to develop a situation-specific safety plan

Every situation is different and each may require a unique and personalized approach for the individual seeking support. We encourage you contact us if you are interested in developing a situation-specific safety plan. These sessions will prioritize your personal safety and provide you with scenario-based guidance, tools and resources to make informed decisions.

External phones: 416-979-5040
Internal phones: 555040
Location: Victoria Building (VIC), 285 Victoria Street, 1st floor