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Keeping Secure and Safe Online

Sannse March 13, 2012 User blog:Sannse Google

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The Internet can be a wild and scary place, but Wikia is something of an oasis for many of us. It's generally a friendly, open, and safe place to be, with people working together to build something great! But it's still important to look after your security wherever you are online, and to be sure that you stay safe as you surf.

Stay Secure

Did you know that the most common password used online is "password"? If that's the one you have chosen for your account – time to change it now!

It's very important that you choose your password carefully, and keep it private. At Wikia, Staff have some tools to help us if your account is stolen, but there is always the possibility that if your account is hacked you will need to create a new account. To avoid this, we recommend the following to create a secure password:

  • Don't use something too easily guessed – especially single words like "dragon" or simple patterns like "qwerty" or "12345".
  • Don't use a password that relates to things known about you, like your pet's name, your favorite actor's name, your Wikia username or gamer tag
  • Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Or use a "pass phrase" - three or more random words separated by spaces.
  • Don't share your password, ever. Even with a close friend. Staff can't see your password, and will never ask you what it is.
  • Don't use the same password on many sites, because if it gets broken on one site, all your other accounts will be vulnerable.
  • And finally, take care not to enter your Wikia password anywhere other than on Wikia. If you visit a site that asks you to enter your Wikia password (for example, to link your account on another wiki) then you are giving full access to your account to someone outside of Wikia – definitely not a wise thing to do!

Stay up-to-date

It's important to take care of your computer to ensure it's as secure as possible. Browser and operating system updates often include security changes, so make sure you update regularly.

Updated anti-malware software is even more important. Security problems are often related to malware attacks, so be sure that you have reputable and up-to-date protection.

Stay Private

Another thing to think about is how much personal information you share online.

Some sites will allow you to reclaim a password by answering some personal questions about yourself. For example, they might ask you for your pets name, or what town you were born in. This is very convenient if you have forgotten your password, but if you list personal information on your profile, and use the same information for your security questions on another site, then they aren't very secure! It's important to think about what information is out there, and what can be used.

Remember, think carefully about sharing information, it's always OK to say "I don't feel comfortable sharing that", or "I don't give out my legal name", even to people you feel close to online.

Stay Safe

There are other reasons to keep your personal information private. If you share too much, it could be used to steal your identity for fraud. It's surprisingly common for people to apply for loans or accounts with someone else's name – and all that's needed is a few key pieces of information.

As well as the risks of personal information being used for fraud or to break in to your account, there are other risks in sharing too much. Even when you are friends with someone you know on a site, it's possible that they aren't who they seem. Meeting someone dangerous online is rare, but something everyone should be careful of. The good news is that it's easy to defend yourself against this, and your best defense is your own good sense.

If you feel threatened or unsafe because of anyone online, you should report this to your local authorities. If you are under 18, you should talk to a parent or other responsible (and off-line) adult. You can also report problems to cybertipline or the Virtual Global Taskforce. And, of course, you can also let Wikia staff know via the contact form

Remember, it's always your choice whether to interact with someone, and you have no obligation to share anything private. If you are chatting on your favorite wiki, you can block private messages from anyone you choose to. If someone makes you uncomfortable, or tries to get you to share things you don't want to, you should simply block them and ignore them.

By staying smart from the start, you will not only have fun online but also remain safe. If you have safety tips you follow, please share them with the community below.

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