Tony’s Tips: Online Safety and Dating

December 2, 2014

I had the pleasure of speaking at the AARP conference Ideas@50+ San Diego recently.  I was honored to talk to attendees about online safety for general everyday life.

I was surprised to hear from many attendees that they needed help creating more secure passwords, they only used one email address for everything and wanted to learn more about online shopping safety tips.  That got me thinking – what other everyday reminders did we forget to follow?

According to a survey AVG employees did of more than 240 attendees, email was the number one activity done online.  A majority of those asked (65%) play games online.  And 5% admitted to dating online!

Whatever you’re doing online, here are five things everyone who’s doing anything should know:

Know what’s already online about you

“Google yourself and make sure what you see is what you want others to see about you”.

Google yourself and make sure what you see is what you want others to see about you. For example, you may find in your Google results your own Instagram, Facebook or Twitter accounts with pictures or comments that you’ve posted. That means you haven’t set your privacy settings to limit the people who can view the content you post.

Tightening the privacy of your accounts is relatively simple, just go to the settings of the account and set the features so only your friends can see your photos and posts.

You can even setup an automated Google Alert so you can see when you are mentioned online. Or you can set one up for a child or other members of your family.

You need a Google account to set up Google alerts. To activate an alert go to “” and type in a name. Whenever that name is picked up by Google you’ll be notified by email.


Be careful what you post about yourself

While on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, don’t include specific information about where you live or work. And don’t post phone numbers.  You don’t want it to be easy to locate you. Similarly don’t use the same ID for multiple accounts. If you do, it’s an easy way to cross reference your identity.

When posting a picture online, be aware that digital photos taken on phones can store lots of information that can include location data.  If you’re taking a picture at home or home, switch off location services on the camera of your phone. This is generally referred to as “Geotagging”.

Most reputable sites will strip this data when uploading images but don’t take this for granted. A perfect example is below.  The picture on the left was taken of me at a TV studio.  Looking at the location data that was saved in the photo (far right), I was able to pinpoint not only where in San Francisco is the studio located, but exactly where in the building I was sitting!  See yellow square below.



You should have several email addresses

One primary address, a different address for financial institutions, another one for shopping online and yet another for dating online – separating your risk should something go wrong with one of these addresses.

That way, if any email account gets compromised, you can easily reset it from the other accounts. I am sure we all know someone who has had their email high-jacked and received SPAM, avoid this by using several accounts.

Use a strong password

Don’t just add a letter or a number or an “s” to the end of your typical one-word password each time. It’s very convenient to use the same word that links your finances, social media and buying habits but think of the risk if its hacked. When creating passwords use something different for each service. Your bank account password should be different to your Facebook, for instance. Some accounts may be easier to hack than others, so once hackers have access to one, they have access to all.

Consider using letters from a sentence, San Francisco Giants 9 Dodgers 0 could become SFg9dod0!

Use one credit card for online purchases

Unless it’s a vendor I know and trust I use a pre-paid Visa card for my purchase to ensure it’s the only transaction on the card. However, not everyone can pre-plan such purchases, so use a credit card that has a low credit limit. I recommend you use one credit card for all your online activity so that it’s easier to stop should it become compromised.

And don’t save the credit card information on your favorite sites, even if it’s convenient!  You can’t always trust others to look after your data as well as you do.

Tony Anscombe on Online Safety


Because AVG is the online security company for devices, data, and people, my number one tip is to have AntiVirus software on all your devices.

12% of Ideas@50+ San Diego attendees admitted they don’t use any AntiVirus whatsoever on their PC and a whopping 62% don’t have it on their smartphone or tablet.  We have free versions for your PC, Tablet and Android phone at, so what are you waiting for?

For more information, check out my other blogs.

Tony Anscombe
December 2, 2014