The internet never forgets! Just ask Scarlett Johansson, Rihanna, Blake Lively, Prince Harry and the many, many celebs whose scandalous naked pictures will forever haunt the web. While your nude bits might not make front page news, they could leave a permanent digital tattoo.
Pre-Valentines research from internet security expert McAfee, reveals over half of us (55%) have intimate or sexual content stored on our phones, yet one in three have only the most basic password protection. What is more, although 96% of us say we trust our partners not to post explicit content of us online, 45% confess to logging into our partners profile to snoop on content they are sending and receiving.
Love guru Andy Jones offers Female First ten exclusive tips for protecting your “assets” while navigating the digital dating jungle...
Tip 1: Run a regular Google image audit
It’s not vain to Google yourself, it’s one of the first things a new partner will think to do, so make sure you’re happy with your search profile. Check the images that crop up next to your name regularly, remember one web search is often all you need to get someone's picture, date of birth, workplace, relationship history, address and the names of their family and children, so search audits are essential to protecting your identity.
Tip 2: Don’t get stung by dating fraudsters
In our quest to find the perfect partner many of us share extensive personal details online, particularly on dating sites. These sites are awash with fraudsters and not just of the romantic variety! Never list bands, films or family members on your profile if they also happen to be your online password - a clever thief will easily put the two together.
Tip 3: Remember the camera never lies – or at least webcam doesn’t
There are plenty of sharks whose full-time job it is to win your trust and take your cash or identity. They can keep a story going for months and months, slowly building your trust and intrigue. If you are ever in doubt about someone’s true identity a video chat is a good idea. If they won't face you on a screen they probably aren't a safe bet - anonymity is what fraudsters hide behind.
Tip 4: Don’t feel pressured to send a sexy snap
Only send photos if you want to, anyone pestering you for a snap, especially if you are reluctant, does not have your best interests at heart. It might be they want something to hold over you should things go wrong, or want to brag or seek reassurance from peers.
Tip 5: Sexy doesn’t mean fully exposed
If you feel the need to flash a little flesh in a photo, then keep it tasteful and on your own terms. Cover up as much as you would on the beach and as a rule of thumb ask yourself - would I be embarrassed if someone in my family or my boss saw this?
Tip 6: Protect yourself from snoops by auditing messages that might be misconstrued
Run a 'phone audit,' every few weeks. Banish any messages which could be misinterpreted - has an ex sent you messages with kisses at the end? Are there messages on your phone with no name attached? It’s far better to avoid a row with your partner by conducting a regular phone audit than trying to reassure a paranoid partner after the event.
Tip 7: Avoid ‘sext regret’ by staying in control
We’ve all been there - it starts with a few cheeky texts and things escalate, suddenly your partner is batting back content worthy of 50 Shades of Grey. In your rush to reciprocate you say things you might not want a digital record of. Sexting doesn’t need to be explicit to pique your partner’s interest. Take your time and think through what you’re sending. Ask yourself would I let myself be tagged in this photo? Let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t upload a snap unless we were looking awesome - flattering filter, hair done, dressed to impress – if you want to avoid ‘sext regret’ the same rules apply.
Tip 8: Avoid sexting under the influence
Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and acts as a social lubricant, but using your phones when under the influence could leave you with a hangover that lasts longer than a day. If you want to text an ex or taking some risqué snaps – sobriety is your friend. If you can’t trust yourself when you’re on a night out, turn your phone off or put it on flight mode so that messages can’t be sent until the cold light of day.
Tip 9: Lock your phone and keep passwords private
While there are of course professional hackers seeking to steal bank account details or hunting for compromising shots, often the greater risks are closer to home. It may sound simple, but lock your phone, keep your passwords to yourself, have different passwords for each device or social profile and protect your phone with security software such as McAfee’s LiveSafe.
Tip 10: Fort Knox your password
We have so many passwords and codes to remember it’s easy to opt for obvious choices, but if you’re uploading regular snaps of ‘Fred the bulldog’ or soppy pictures of your partner the odds are your password is easy to guess for a seasoned hacker. If you want to use obvious words try substituting letters for numbers on your phone keyboard to increase the complexity of your passwords.