It seems every day we are hear­ing that suc­cess is all about our “social net­work” and that social net­work­ing, whether it’s Twit­ter, Face­book, Google+, Linkedin etc., is where the action is.  Of course with any­thing we do online there are risks and dan­gers.   Is the infor­ma­tion we share safe?  How much infor­ma­tion is too much infor­ma­tion?  How do we pro­tect our­selves? Here are some safe­ty tips  to con­sid­er.

Whether it’s  Face­book, Google+ or anoth­er social net­work, it’s impor­tant to check your data pro­tec­tion set­tings. Think about which data can be seen by your friends list, and which data is pub­licly avail­able. Expe­ri­ence has shown that peo­ple are quick to add large num­bers of users to their friends’ lists, poten­tial­ly giv­ing access to your pho­tos and oth­er posts to com­plete strangers.

Be sure to con­sid­er which func­tions of social net­work­ing sites leave you vul­ner­a­ble.  Ser­vices, for exam­ple, which auto­mat­i­cal­ly pub­lish your cur­rent loca­tion should be treat­ed with cau­tion. The com­bi­na­tion of your cur­rent loca­tion and your oth­er con­tact info makes you trace­able in real life. Not only does this ‘ser­vice’ expose your cur­rent loca­tion in real time, it expos­es where you are NOT.   Post­ing on your sta­tus that you are on vaca­tion is anoth­er prob­lem.  Your home could now be vul­ner­a­ble to a break in,  you have just announced on line that it’s prob­a­bly unoc­cu­pied.

Note that the oper­a­tors of social net­work­ing sites don’t ver­i­fy the iden­ti­ty of users.  Con­se­quent­ly we need to wary of “friend requests” .  Using a well cho­sen ques­tion to con­firm the person’s iden­ti­ty before accept­ing the request, may be good pro­tec­tion tool to pre­vent hack­ers from gain­ing access to an account.

Pro­tect­ing your own iden­ti­ty helps pre­vent crim­i­nals from cre­at­ing fraud­u­lent pro­files to black­mail vic­tims. ID theft can be car­ried out by phish­ing meth­ods to col­lect pass­words for exist­ing user accounts.  Keep your secu­ri­ty set­tings and anti-virus soft­ware up to date.

Virus­es and Tro­jans like the koob­face worm use social net­work­ing sites to dis­trib­ute them­selves. In such cas­es users get fake invi­ta­tions from a friend to a view an album or link.  Click­ing a link can result in your PC being infect­ed with mal­ware.   Be very cau­tious about what links etc., you click or accept. Note that many spe­cial Apps and games on social net­work sites require you to relin­quish your pri­va­cy and safe­ty set­tings.   Think long and hard about whether it’s worth the risk to view a link that might poten­tial­ly be infect­ed with a mal­ware or iden­ti­ty steal­ing tech­nol­o­gy.

Pri­va­cy and iden­ti­ty are extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to restore once stolen.  Con­se­quent­ly take every pos­si­ble step to pro­tect your­self.  Many social net­work sites are very slow to respond to per­son­al requests for assis­tance.   Rule of thumb is to always err on the side of cau­tion when on Social Media Sites and the net in gen­er­al.

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Allan Baum
Security Industry veteran with over 30+ years in the industry. Founded family owned and operated Protection Plus in 1994 with his wife and has overseen its growth since. In addition to working with his wife and son, Allan has assigned the role of Chief Canine Officer to his trusted dog Waub, who joins him at the office every day.