Are your ears burning?

Posted on: 19 October 2017
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This month our Information and IT Security Officer, Graeme Wolfe, looks at how you can find out when your name is used, or appears online.

Noel Coward once said that the only thing worse than being talked about, was not being talked about. But in our modern, online world, knowing who is saying what and when could be very important.

Last month we showed how to find if your email has been hacked, this month we look at finding references to personal data on line.

With over 644 million web pages, plus many other postings on social media channels, blogs, vlogs and podcasts searching through them all for mentions of your own name would be a mammoth task.

Fortunately Google can make this easy for you. Google Alerts are automatically generated notifications that will send an email to your inbox to alert you every time your chosen search term is found online.

Alerts are easy to set up and can be set to send you updates daily, weekly, monthly or as they occur. Just go to or search for ‘google alerts’ then enter the details you want to get alerts on – John Smith for example – into the search boxes. If your name is a very common one you could get many alerts which are nothing to do with you personally – if you’re not sure if you have a popular name, this tool will help you find out.

If you use the Chrome browser, have a Gmail account and are logged in to them, alerts will pre-populate the ‘me on the web’ section for you. Having the accounts is not essential to set up alerts, but it does make things easier, just follow the simple online instructions.

Once you have set everything up, then whenever there is a new mention of your name on the web you will get an email alert.

I have set Google alerts up for family and friends and they have proved useful in identifying content about them that was inappropriate or inaccurate, which they have then had taken down or corrected, content which you may never have been aware was there in the first place.

Remember – Knowledge is power.

Graeme Wolfe

Information and IT Security Officer


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