“Most guys don’t think about what it’s like to be sized up for sexual value as the first thing anyone sees about them, everywhere they go—anytime they go online, walk into a room, or try to join a conversation. Most men don’t have to deal with being a target their whole lives the same way that women do,” writes Violet Blue, an investigative reporter covering cyber-crime and a former San Francisco Chronicle sex columnist. She’s written an illuminating little handbook for women, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy (No Starch Press). Her top three tips (out of many) for protecting yourself online:
- Your webcam is a portal for spying on you.
“Put a little Post-it note, sticker, or even a piece of tape on the webcam of your computer or smartphone.
Webcam hacking—they are capturing images of you unaware—is widespread, and the software to do it is really, really cheap,” Blue says.
- Use different pictures for each of your social media accounts.
“The [profile] photo is the biggest mistake women make. Different pictures make it more difficult for cyber-criminals to put together a digital portrait of you.”
- If sexy pictures of you get into the wrong hands:
“Make your social networks private. Then—this can cost thousands—hire services like Abine.com or Reputation.com. You tell them what to look for; they check every month and start getting stuff taken down. They work to drive down negative search results.” If you can’t afford that, DIY: Post, post, post positive content about yourself. “Overwhelm the bad stuff with good content. Eventually the old stuff will just go by way of Google’s 40th page, where no one ever looks.”
This article originally appeared in the August issue of ELLE.