1. Opening pictures, downloading files or clicking links should be avoided at all cost in case it comes from someone you do not know. Do not open suspicious files or links even if they come for someone you know; try to confirm with the person on the origin of the attachment.
2. Do not reply to messages from people you don’t know if you were not expecting them. If someone you do not recognize sends you a request to add him/her to your contacts, decline the request if not sure about the indetity of the contact.
3. Unwanted messages ought to be blocked - blocking spam or messages from strangers might be easier than you think – most IM software allows you to create your own contact list.
4. Do not post sensitive information and private data in instant messages, especially refrain from sharing credit card numbers, banking details, paswords or important personal identification data like phone number or addresses. You should also avoid sharing information about your IM name or e-mail contact over the Intertnet.
5. Your Instant Messaging should also have a strong password as any other account. Always use different passwords for different accounts and other online services (such as online banking, e-mail). Do not recycle your password. If you log in on public or shared computer, make sure to uncheck the automatic login feature.
6. Avoid meeting strangers that you have met online while instant messaging. If you decide to meet someone in real person anyway, take safety precautions – bring someone along with you.
7. Turn off your Web camera if you are not using it, as some malware allows criminals and strangers to spy on you through your own webcam. If you have an integrated camera, always check the control light that it is off when you are not using it.
Posted by Victor Philip @ pcmag-mideast.com