The convenience of mobile devices also comes with risk. As you check-in, text, share photos, and increasingly run your life on the go, you may inadvertently expose private information or make yourself more likely to be a victim of a crime. Here are four things you should be aware of as you use new mobile and social technology that might spare you expensive or embarrassing lessons:
1. Beware of how often you "check in" through social media.
Apps like Foursquare and websites like Facebook allow you to "check in" when you're out and about in the world, effectively broadcasting where you are... and where you're not. Be especially sensitive to checking in from airports and locations far from home. Enterprising thieves can use this information to target your home or business.
2. Beware of the photos you're sharing.
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what are your pictures on Facebook saying to friends, family, and co-workers? Just like checking in when you're out of town, vacation photos posted in real time can inadvertently let people know you're not home.
3. Remember to log out of public computers
If you've ever checked your email in an internet cafe or hotel computer, did you remember to log out? Closing a browser window isn't usually enough. People who open the browser can often waltz right into your email account because your "session" is still active. Remember to click "log out" or "exit my account" any time you log into private accounts through public machines.
4. Protect your devices
Smart phones now carry the sort of data you used to keep under lock and key in your home office or closet safe. If your devices are lost or stolen, how much of your private information could be exposed through your device?
First and foremost, add password protection to your device in case it is lost. Most have a setting you can activate which forces someone enter a code before access the apps and data on the device.
Second, consider adding an app or service which will track your device via GPS if it is lost or stolen. Depending on your device, there are an array of options to help locate your smart phone if it disappears. To find an app specific to your device, try Googling (without quotation marks): "app tracks stolen [device name]" where [device name] is replaced with your brand of smart phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.).