How to Safely Use Internet and Social Media Sites

How to Safely Use Internet and Social Media Sites

How to Safely Use Internet and Social Media Sites:

Information placed on the internet or social media can potentially end up in the worldwide public domain and be seen or used by someone for purpose it was not intended for. This may happen even if the information was intended to be ‘private’ or was on a closed profile or group. Therefore, consider any information you are going to place on the internet or social media as public disclosure.

You should avoid using internet and social media after consuming alcohol or when your judgment may be impaired for other reasons. Similarly, the use of social media for private purposes during work hours and from government systems should be in accordance with the department policies. The use of social media for private purposes during working time, and from personal mobile devices, is not a healthy practice.

Those in government services should be familiar with department policies and procedures covering topics such as information security, data protection, the officials secret Act etc which deal with data integrity, sanctity etc.

Risk Factors:

The safe use of the internet and social media requires an awareness of risks across four areas:

Breach of trust or confidence: Disclosure of information about the official work or about colleagues.

You have moral duty if not legal to avoid disclosing information obtained from third parties through the conduct of duties. Such information must not therefore be posted on the internet or social media sites like Facebook. Similarly, you should not access or disclose any information that is not in the proper course of official duty nor access information for personal reasons. 

Also, you shall not provide information to third parties who are not entitled to it. Finally, you are advised not to make adverse comment regarding colleagues or seniors in general on the internet or social media.

Unauthorized disclosure of personal data: You may have to significant amount of personal and sensitive data due to nature of your work and duty. Here, personal data means data which relates to living individual who can be identified from: 
a) The data, or
b) Other information which is in your possession, or is likely to come into your possession.

Sensitive personal data means personal data consisting of information as to:
a)  The racial or ethnic origin of a person
b) Their political opinions
c)  Their religious beliefs or their beliefs of a similar nature
d)  Their physical or mental health or condition
e)  Their sexual life
f) The commission or alleged commission of any offence

The personal data or sensitive personal data about third parties that you obtain in the course of your duties should not be disclosed on the internet or social medial as it may tantamount to violation of rules or may also be a criminal offence.

Bringing discredit to work environment: 
You should be mindful of the viral effect of the internet and social media and the potential for the smallest piece of information to scale beyond all expectations. The expression of views or conduct which appears to support discrimination against any group, or encourages racial or religious hatred may amount to criminal offence.

You should not make any comment or post any images on the internet or social media which are, or could reasonably be perceived to be, beliefs or conduct that are contrary to the expectations of behavior outlined in the standards of professional behavior.

Revealing personal information: Increased vulnerability to harassment, corruption or blackmail or even worse

Criminals and others may use the internet and social media to indentify personal information with a view to embarrassing, discrediting, harassing, corrupting or blackmailing you or your families for their own benefit. People in sensitive posts, with uncommon names, or in high profile posts are particularly vulnerable to such attempts. Therefore, you must ensure that privacy settings for social media are set to the highest level.

Besides, you should be careful when accepting “friends” on social media and they should not be associated with inappropriate contents on social media. This will make sure that you are not associated with criminals on social media.

You must ensure that all your computers and mobile devices have up-to date security and anti-virus software installed and must use strong passwords and never share them. It is recommended that you should not post any of the following information on the internet or social media:

  • Details of your employer
  • Details of your post
  • Mobile telephone numbers
  • Home addresses
  • Personal e-mail addresses
  • Family members details
  • Hobbies and places frequented 
  • Details of vehicles 
  • Sensitive personal data like bank account details 
  • Images or details of colleagues without their consent 

The use of mobile internet devices and smart-phones with an ability to access the internet and social media may lead to situation where you may inadvertently disclose sensitive personal information. With advances in digital technology, images obtained using smart-phones may contain data revealing the exact geographical location where the image was captured. The subsequent posting of such images on the internet or social media sites may unintentionally disclose information which was meant to be kept private.

Therefore, you are strongly advised to disable Location Based Services (LBS) and GPS services on personal smart-phones to avoid the unintentional disclosure of your location by posting of such images on the internet or social media sites.