What do you share?

Rocket Launch SignJudging from the headlines (Facebook Apps Sharing Info, Twitter Mouseover Security Flaw and  Facebook Glitch Brings New Privacy Worries)  social networking and cyber security are an oxymoronic pairing at best. Really? Should you quit Facebook now? Will you avoid YouTube and blog sites (except this one, of course) and keep your tweets to yourself? Don’t click the comment button for that online journal article or write an Amazon review. And no more Hulu for you! What?? Wait! That’s not all part of social networking, is it? Well, think about it. If you favorite, friend, tweet, post, link, thumbs up, thumbs down, comment or pose a question to the community, information about you is out there in the cloud. The rocket has launched and it’s not turning back. (Sorry.)

So, aside from moving into a cave, what are you supposed to do?

For every article or site that puts you in mind of the apocalypse, and some have good reason to frighten you, there are those that focus on what every user should or can do to safeguard personal information as much as is possible in an open access world. Scott Fendley of the ISC (Internet Storm Center) recently posted Protecting and Managing Your Digital Identity on Social Media Sites. While much of it should be review for most of us, there might be a couple of points that surprise you. I’ll repeat the main points here:

  1. Review and use privacy settings.
  2. Don’t share information that can help people steal your identity or locate you.
  3. Limit who can see photos or video tagged with your name.
  4. Restrict delivery of [tweets, a Facebook status update] to your circle of friends only.
  5. Online interactions between coaches and potential student athletes must be managed cautiously.
  6. Be especially careful of malicious links sent via social media accounts.
  7. Protect social media accounts from being hijacked.
  8. Think twice before posting or even clicking on a post. (Think embarrassing moments.)

Navigating privacy settings are admittedly a headache. Facebook privacy settings, ever changing as they seem to be, can be more convoluted than most. The well-known security company Sophos has a fairly comprehensive guide to Facebook security that takes you through each of the options, offering both a brief explanation of the setting and recommendations on the safest choices. Twitter has far fewer settings to contend with and their privacy policy tells you right up front that “What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly.” You can follow or unfollow at will. Likewise, you can be followed or unfollowed by anyone else. You can also choose to block someone should you feel it is necessary. If you have an account on YouTube (see their Safety Center), Flickr (see their Privacy FAQ) or some other online service you can usually control whether your information is open to anyone or to a select group. The same goes if you use a blogging service such as WordPress or Blogger. Sometimes finding a how-to for security settings is as simple as a google search. If that doesn’t turn up something helpful go to the main site (ex: wordpress.com) and search within the support pages. As Fendley states in his explanation for point #1 above, “You need to decide how visible you want your contact and profile information, videos, photos, and other posts to be, and take the time to set the appropriate controls within the media site in question.”

More resources

OnGuard Online—find information about internet fraud, protecting your personal information, teaching kids to stay safe online and more
U.S. Cert—choose from a long list of categories including mobile devices and privacy
How to Return Facebook’s Privacy Settings to What You Signed Up For—article at lifehacker.com
Creating Secure Passwords—article at About.com

It’s a wrap

I’ll end with this take on cyber security from staysafeonline.org. It’s well worth the 2 1/2 minutes of your time. Trust me.




Cyber Security Awareness Month – Day 12 – Protecting and Managing Your Digital Identity On Social Media Sites
Published: 2010-10-12, Last Updated: 2010-10-12 20:45:08 UTC
by Scott Fendley (Version: 2)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Rocket launch sign image by sshepherd at istockphoto.com