Last Updated: December 01, 2019.
Online chatting was one of the first massively popular ways of communication sparked by the Internet revolution. In addition to email and instant messages, it’s still a popular way to exchange words with friends, family, colleagues, and complete strangers.
On the one hand, chatting can be a convenient way to develop strong relationships with like-minded individuals (some of which you don’t ever have to meet in person). This way, you can expand your knowledge, share experiences, get motivated to do something, or make a positive impact on the world. On the other hand, there’s plenty to be worried about as well.
Throughout this article, we’ll introduce you to the best practices of safe online chatting by sharing valuable tips. So, let’s jump right in.
Here’s How to Stay Safe When Chatting Online!
We’re going to talk about things like protecting your identity and personal information, which is perhaps the most crucial thing when chatting online. Then, we’ll talk about background checks and common ‘red flags’ – all of which should make you more comfortable when using the Web.
Always Protect Your True Identity
Guarding your personal information can help lessen the risk of identity theft. You have to understand that in today’s digital world, your private data is of the highest value. And you can understand how easy it can be to ‘leak’ your private data when chatting online.
First of all, avoid using your real name and don’t give any information that might tell where you’re located. Uploading your personal photos or talking about your favourite (or often visited) places in your city are actually clues to someone with malicious intentions.
It’s also worth noting that you can’t hide all your information. More skilled individuals can trace your location by finding the IP address, which is often fully exposed during online chat sessions. To block those types of information, we highly recommend using a VPN application.
A reliable VPN will hide your original IP, grant you a virtual internet protocol address, encrypt your Web data and stop anyone from tracking what you do online. And for this purpose, we have a particular recommendation which has proven to work magnificently for online chatting. So, to learn more, read some VPN guides and reviews online.
Don’t Use Just Any Chat Website (App)
There are thousands of options in front of you when it comes to chatting. You can use a website for this purpose, or you can go for a chat (IM) app for your mobile device. However, always make sure to use your common sense when accessing those services. If something looks suspicious, leave immediately.
For example, poorly designed websites with plenty of ads are usually a bad sign. Also, the same applies to websites that ask you to install third-party software or extensions. And when it comes to mobile apps, avoid those that ask for your personal information to be able to access their chat functionality.
There’s no need to use unknown websites when there are so many reputable ones out there, and this applies to mobile apps as well. When it comes to websites, see if its URL (Web address) starts with ‘https’ which indicates that there’s a reliable security protocol involved. And for chat apps, choose those that use end-to-end encryption (like WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and more).
Don’t Open Files Sent by Strangers
All in all, there are particular types of files which are comparatively safe to open, but even ones that you think would be trustworthy might startle you. Don’t open any attachments from people you don’t know. Now for the imperceptibly longer answer consider the elaboration below.
Protecting your personal information can help reduce the risk of identity theft. As you already know, chat rooms are a way to send and receive files. People can upload and share all kinds of data including videos, music, photos, documents, and everything in between. However, you should know that pretty much any file type can contain malicious code – even photos. This is why many chat services incorporate so-called ‘embeds,’ which means that you can see a picture without having to download it.
If you still want to download files, use a reliable antivirus that can automatically scan those files as soon as they download on your computer or mobile device.
Do a Quick Background Check
Online chatting is often related to online dating services, and there’s nothing wrong in harnessing the power of the Web for this purpose. However, such services are sometimes used by individuals with malicious motives, which is why it’s important to do a background check when chatting with someone.
There are perfectly safe ways to check someone’s identity. You can open Google Images for example, and upload someone’s photo to verify their identity. Or you can politely ask for any information that might prove the identity of the person you’re talking with.
Don’t let this article discourage you – the world of online chatting can be a highly enjoyable one. If you’re open-minded and you approach this activity with (reasonable) caution, you might meet like-minded individuals looking for constructive communication and beautiful relations. Needless to say, this can often lead to long-term friendships, which is what online chatting is all about, after all.