Guidelines for publishing information on the internet

IT should always be remembered that the internet is a public resource available to many people. It is a general rule of thumb to not put anything onto the internet that you don’t want the public to see or that you would want to retract at some point. Here are some guidelines to follow when putting information on the internet:

View the internet as a novel, not a diary – You should be comfortable with anyone seeing the information that you post on the internet. Expect that people you have never met will find your page; even if you are keeping an online journal or blog, post information with the thought of others viewing it in mind. Not all sites will offer ways to protect this information, so you should take this into account. What you post is not likely to stay within a small and restricted group and will mostly likely not remain private.

Be careful what you advertise – These days it is not hard for someone to find information on another person on the internet. Information on a person is usually easily accessible due to many social networking sites. When deciding how much information to reveal, realize that you are broadcasting it to the world. Giving your email address out to the public can lead to a lot of span in your inbox. Providing details about your hobbies, your job, your family and friends, and your past may give attackers enough information to perform a successful social engineering attacks such as phishing or spearing.

Realize that you can’t take it back – Once you publish something online, it is available to other people and to search engines. You can change or remove information after something has been published, but it is possible that someone has already seen the original version. Even if you try to remove the page(s) from the internet, someone may have saved a copy of the page or used excerpts in another source. Some search engines “cache” copies of web pages; these cached copies may be available after a web page has been deleted or altered. Some web browsers may also maintain a cache of the web pages a user has visited, so the original version may be stored in a temporary file on the user’s computer. Think about these implications before publishing information—once something is out there, you can’t guarantee that you can completely remove it.