Posts

Some Simple Steps to Social Media Privacy

When was the last time you checked your privacy settings on your social media profiles? Being aware of the information you share is a critical step in securing your online identity. Below we’ve outlined some of the top social media sites and what you can do today to help keep your personal information safe.

FACEBOOK Social Media Privacy

Click the padlock icon in the upper right corner of Facebook, and run a Privacy
Checkup. This will walk you through three simple steps:

  • Who you share status updates with
  • A list of the apps that are connected to your Facebook page
  • How personal information from your profile is shared.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend your Facebook Privacy setting be set to “Friends Only” to avoid sharing your information with strangers. You can confirm that all of your future posts will be visible to “Friends Only” by reselecting the padlock and clicking “Who can see my stuff?” then select “What do other people see on my timeline” and review the differences between your public and friends only profile. Oh, and don’t post anything stupid!

TWITTER Social Media Privacy

Click on your profile picture. Select settings. From here you will see about 15 areas on the left-hand side. It’s worth it to take the time to go through each of them and select what works for you. We especially recommend spending time in the “Security and Privacy” section where you should:

  • Enable login verification. Yes, it’s an extra step to access your account, but it provides increased protection against unauthorized access of your account.
  • Require personal information whenever a password reset request is made. It’s not foolproof, but this setting will at least force a hacker to find out your associated email address or phone number if they attempt to reset your password.
  • Determine how private you want your tweets to be. You can limit who (if anybody) is allowed to tag you in photos and limit your posts to just those you follow.
  • Turn off the option called “Add a location to my Tweets”.
  • Uncheck the options that allow others to find you via email address or phone number.
  • Finally, go to the Apps section and check out which third-party apps you’ve allowed access to your Twitter account (and in some cases, post on your behalf) and revoke access to anything that seems unfamiliar or anything that you know you don’t use anymore.

Oh, and don’t post anything stupid!

INSTAGRAM Social Media Privacy

The default setting on Instagram is public, which means that anyone can see the pictures you post. If you don’t want to share your private photos with everyone, you can easily make your Instagram account private by following the steps below. NOTE: you must use your smartphone to change your profile settings; it does not work from the website.

  • Tap on your profile icon (picture of person), then the gear icon* to the right of your name.
  • Select Private Account. Now only people you approve can see your photos and videos.
  • Spend some time considering which linked accounts you want to keep and who can push notifications to you.

*Icons differ slightly depending on your smartphone. Visit the Instagram site for specifics and for more in depth controls.

Oh, and don’t post anything stupid!

SNAPCHAT Social Media Privacy

Snapchat’s settings are really basic, but there’s one setting that can help a lot: If you don’t want just anybody sending you photos or videos, make sure you’re using the default setting to only accept incoming pictures from “My Friends.”  By default, only users you add to your friends list can send you Snaps. If a Snapchatter you haven’t added as a friend tries to send you a Snap, you’ll receive a notification that they added you, but you will not receive the Snap they sent unless you add them to your friends list.  Here are some other easy tips for this site:

  • If you want to change who can send you snaps or view your story, click the snapchat icon and then the gear (settings) icon in the top right hand corner. Scroll down to the “Who can…” section and make your selections.
  • Like all services, make sure you have a strong and unique password.
  • Remember, there are ways to do a screen capture to save and recover images, so no one should develop a false sense of “security” about that.

In other words, (all together now) don’t post anything stupid!

A Final Tip: The privacy settings for social media sites change frequently. Check in at least once a month to ensure your privacy settings are still as secure as possible and no changes have been made.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Online Privacy and Teens: Help Them Care if They Don't

,

facebook teenBefore you read this article, stop and picture yourself as a 16 year old.  Now that you’ve recovered from the trauma of that, think about this question: what thoughts consumed your time – your favorite band, your first car, your first love, your first job, your first password?  Certainly not the latter, and you most likely weren’t thinking about online privacy issues.

It’s no surprise then that today’s teens don’t think about them much either, although they do more than most of us ever had to.  The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey entitled Teens, Social Media, and Privacy and found a variety of interesting statistics.

Teens share more about themselves on social media sites than they did according to the previous survey from 2006.  A few of the more significant ones:

  • 91% post a photo of themselves (up from 79%)
  • 71% post their school name (up from 49%)
  • 53% post their email address (up from 29%)
  • 20% post their cell phone number (up from 2%)

Some new questions revealed that teens also post other potentially risky information:

  • 92% post their real name
  • 82% post their birth date
  • 24% post videos of themselves
  • 16% have set their profile to automatically include their location in posts

The good news is that while teens are sharing more, they are also becoming more aware of privacy concerns; 60% of teen Facebook users set their profiles to private.  In addition, 89% of those users indicated it’s “not difficult at all” or “not too difficult” to set privacy controls.

Teens also manage their profiles in other ways to help control their reputation:

  • 59% have deleted or edited a previous post
  • 53% have deleted comments from others
  • 74% have deleted people from their network or friends list
  • 26% have posted false information to help protect their privacy

While some of these statistics would seem to indicate that teens are becoming more aware of protecting their privacy and reputation, there are still far too many that are just not concerned.  In fact, just 9% responded that they were “very concerned” and 31% were “somewhat concerned that some of the information they share on social networking sites might be accessed by third parties like advertisers or businesses without their knowledge.”  Undoubtedly, some of this lack of concern comes from simple, blissful teenage ignorance.  One teen that participated in a focus group discussion said, “Anyone who isn’t friends with me cannot see anything about my profile except my name and gender.  I don’t believe that [Facebook] would do anything with my info.”

In contrast to this, 81% of parents are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about what advertisers can learn about their children’s online behavior.  Too bad it’s not 100%, but if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re one of the 81%.  Because you care, and because your children quite likely do not, it may fall to you to help them be safe online.  We’ve addressed this many times in the past (in articles referenced below), but it’s so important that we wanted to revisit it.  The most basic steps:

  • Have a frank discussion about what concerns you. Discuss how advertisers use the information they can easily garner when we use social media, and warn them (AGAIN AND AGAIN!) about how strangers can access it, too.  Our Summer School for Parents article addresses the specifics in case you missed it.
  • Teach your child how to play it smart on Facebook.  We addressed this in our Facebook Privacy article with some detailed action items.
  • Check out our Smartphone Survival Guide and Facebook Safety Survival Guide if you want more specifics.

It may be hard to pull your teens off their social media sites long enough to have these discussions, but it will be worth the effort to protect their online privacy.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and professional speaker on social media privacy. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Visa, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Ways Your Facebook Privacy Is Compromised | Sileo Group

One billion people worldwide use Facebook to share the details of their lives with their friends and may be unaware their Facebook Privacy could be compromised. Trouble is, they also might be unintentionally divulging matters they consider private to co-workers, clients and employers.

Worse yet, they may be sharing their privacy with marketing companies and even scammers, competitors and identity thieves. Luckily, with some Facebook privacy tips, you can help protect your account online.

Here are six ways Facebook could be compromising your private information and how to protect yourself:

Facebook Privacy

1.  The new Timeline format brings old lapses in judgment back to light. Timeline, introduced in late 2011, makes it easy for people to search back through your old Facebook posts, something that was very difficult to do in the past. That could expose private matters and embarrassing photos that you’ve long since forgotten posting.

What to do: Review every entry on your Facebook timeline. To hide those you do not wish to be public, hold the cursor over the post, click the pencil icon that appears in the upper right corner, select “Edit or remove” then “Hide from timeline.” Being able to “revise” your history gives you a second chance to eliminate over-sharing or posts made in poor taste.

Facebook Privacy2.  Facebook third-party app providers can harvest personal details about you—even those you specifically told Facebook you wished to be private. Third-party apps are software applications available through Facebook but actually created by other companies. These include games and quizzes popular on Facebook like FarmVille and Words with Friends, plus applications like Skype, TripAdvisor and Yelp. Most Facebook apps are free—the companies that produce them make their money by harvesting personal details about users from their Facebook pages, then selling that information to advertisers. In other words, you are paying for the right to use Facebook using the currency of your personal information.

Many apps collect only fairly innocuous information—things like age, hometown and gender that are probably not secret. But others dig deep into Facebook data, even accessing information specifically designated as private.

Example: A recent study found that several Facebook quiz game apps collected religious affiliations, political leanings and sexual orientations. Many Facebook apps also dig up personal info from our friends’ Facebook pages—even if those friends don’t use the apps. There’s no guarantee that the app providers will sufficiently safeguard our personal information and there are numerous instances where they have done just the opposite.

What to do: Read user agreements and privacy policies carefully to understand what information you are agreeing to share before signing up for any app. The free Internet tool Privacyscore is one way to evaluate the privacy policies of the apps you currently use (www.facebook.com/privacyscore), but remember that it is provided by the very company that is collecting all of your data. You also can tighten privacy settings. In “Facebook Privacy Settings,” scroll down to “Ads, Apps and Websites,” then click “Edit Settings.” Find “Apps You Use” and click “Edit Settings” again to see your privacy options. And be sure to delete any apps you don’t use. While you are in the privacy settings, take a spin around to find out other data you are sharing that might compromise your privacy.

Facebook Privacy3.  Facebook “like” buttons are spying on you—even when you don’t click them. Each time you click a “like” button on a Web site, you broadcast your interest in a subject not just to your Facebook friends but also to Facebook and its advertising partners.

Example: Repeatedly “like” articles in a publication with a specific political viewpoint, and Facebook advertisers might figure out how you vote.

Not clicking “like” buttons won’t free you from this invasion of privacy. If you’re a Facebook user and you visit a Webpage that has a “like” button, Facebook will record that you visited even if you don’t click “like.” Facebook claims to keep Web browsing habits private, but once information is collected, there’s no guarantee that it won’t get out.

Example: If an insurance company purchases this data, it might discover that someone applying for health coverage has visited Web pages about an expensive-to-treat medical disorder. The insurer might then find an excuse to deny this person coverage, or to raise their rates substantially.

What to do: One way to prevent Facebook from knowing where you go online is to set your Web browser to block all cookies. Each browser has a different procedure for doing this, and it will mean that you will have to re-enter your user ID and password each time you visit certain Web sites.

Another option is to browse the web in “InPrivate Browsing” mode (Internet Explorer), “Incognito” mode (Google Chrome) or “Private Browsing” mode (Firefox and Safari), which seems to be a less intrusive way to raise your privacy levels.

Less conveniently, you could log out of Facebook and select “delete all cookies” from your browser’s privacy settings before visiting Web sites you don’t want Facebook to know about. There are also free plug-ins available to prevent Facebook from tracking you around the Internet, such as Facebook Blocker (webgraph.com/resources/facebookblocker).

Facebook Privacy4.  Social readers” tell your Facebook friends too much about your reading habits. Some sites, including the Washington Post and England’s The Guardian, offer “Social Reader” Facebook tools. If you sign up for one, it will tell your Facebook friends what articles you read on the site, sparking interesting discussions.

The problem: excessive sharing. The tools don’t share articles with your Facebook friends only when you click a “like” button, they share everything you read on the site. Your Facebook friends likely will feel buried under a flood of shared articles, and you might be embarrassed by what the social reader tells your friends about your reading habits.

What to do: If you’ve signed up for a social reader app, delete it. In Facebook privacy settings, choose “Apps you use,” click “Edit Settings,” locate the social reader app, then click the “X” and follow the directions to delete.

Facebook Privacy5.  Photo and video tags let others see you in unflattering and unprofessional situations. If you work for a straight-laced employer, work with conservative clients or are in the job market, you may already realize that it’s unwise to post pictures of yourself in unprofessional and possibly embarrassing situations.

But you may fail to consider that pictures other people post of you can also hurt you.

A Facebook feature called photo tags has dramatically increased this risk. The tags make it easy for Facebook users to identify by name the people in photos they post—Facebook even helps make the IDs—then link these photos to the Facebook pages of all Facebook users pictured.

What to do: Untag yourself from unflattering photos by using the “remove” option on these posts. Arrange to review all future photos you’re tagged in before they appear on your Facebook Timeline by selecting “Timeline and Tagging” in Facebook’s Privacy Settings menu, clicking “Edit settings,” then enabling “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline”. Better yet, ask your friends and family not to post pictures of you without your permission. Be sure to extend the same courtesy to them by asking whether or not they mind you tagging them in a photo.

Facebook Privacy6.  Our Facebook friends—and those friends’ friends—offer clues to our own interests and activities. Even if you’re careful not to provide sensitive information about yourself on Facebook, those details could be exposed by the company you keep.

Example: A 2009 MIT study found it was possible to determine with great accuracy whether a man was gay based on factors including the percentage of his Facebook friends who were openly gay—even if this man did not disclose his sexual orientation himself.

Sexual orientation isn’t the only potential privacy issue. If several of your Facebook friends list a potentially risky or unhealthy activity, such as motorcycling, cigar smoking or bar hopping among their interests—or include posts or pictures of themselves pursuing this interest—an insurer, college admissions officer, employer or potential employer might conclude that you likely enjoy this pursuit yourself.

What to do: Take a close look at the interests and activities mentioned by your Facebook friends on their pages. If more than a few of them discuss a dangerous hobby, glory in unprofessional behavior, or are open about matters of sexual orientation or political or religious belief that you consider private, it might be wise to either remove most or all of these people from your friends list, or at least make your friends list private. Click the “Friends” unit under the cover photo on your Facebook page, click “Edit,” then select “Only Me” from the drop-down menu.

Most of all, remember that Facebook and other social networking sites are social by nature, which means that they are designed to share information with others. The responsibility to protect your personal and private information doesn’t just fall on the social networks; it is also up to you.  Following these Facebook privacy tips can help you succeed in keeping your most personal information safe. 

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Google and Facebook Go Deeper Into Your Privacy

,

This post is a summary of an excellent article appearing in USA Today By Byron Acohido, Scott Martin and Jon Swartz.

It’s a heated competition to tap what many experts predict will be the next big Internet gold rush — online advertising — Google and Facebook laid down very big bets, during a week when European regulators are hashing out strict new rules that could prevent much of what the tech giants seek to do.

Google signaled its intent to begin correlating data about its users’ activities across all of its most popular services and across multiple devices. The goal: to deliver those richer behavior profiles to advertisers.

Likewise, Facebook announced it will soon make Timeline the new, more glitzy user interface for its service, mandatory. Timeline is designed to chronologically assemble, automatically display and make globally accessible the preferences, acquaintances and activities for most of Facebook’s 800 million members.

“If they can make the ads more relevant, the logic goes, they can increase the number of advertisers and the price they can charge per click (on each ad),” says Alex Daley, chief investment strategist at Casey Research. “Because the click will be from more qualified leads — customers who are more interested in the product — they can grow the revenue base.”

But security analysts, privacy advocates and technologists say consumers probably should be very concerned. While making richer behavioral data more readily available to advertisers, Google’s new data-correlating practices and Facebook’s new Timeline and Open Graph, a more powerful way to express preferences on third-party websites, also tend to aid and abet more unsavory uses.

Richer personal details are very beneficial to identity thieves and cyberspies, as well as to parties motivated to use such data unfairly against consumers, such as insurance companies, prospective employers, political campaigners and, lately, hacktivists, security analysts say.

“What these unilateral decisions by Google and Facebook demonstrate is a complete disregard for their users’ interests and concerns,” says John Simpson, spokesman for Consumer Watchdog. “It’s an uncommonly arrogant approach not usually seen in business, where these companies believe they can do whatever they want with our data, whenever and however they want to do it.”

The deeper personal data of Timeline — which Facebook users willfully share — are potentially online advertising gold for marketers and advertisers. This is especially crucial, analysts say, as Facebook has finalized it’s initial public stock offering.

John Sileo is an award-winning author and international speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and its polar opposite, the powerful use of trust, to achieve success. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises teams on how to multiply performance by building a culture of deep trust. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation (he shares how he lost $300,000, 2 years and his business to data breach) or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business. 1.800.258.8076.

Avoiding Social Spam Hackers on Facebook and Twitter

, ,

The post appears like it’s coming from a known friend. It’s enticing (“check out what our old high school friend does for a living now!”), feeds on your curiosity and good nature, begs you to click. A quick peek at the video, a chance to win a FREE iPad or to download a coupon, and presto, you’ve just infected your computer with malware (all the bad stuff that sends your private information to criminals and marketers). Sound like the spam email of days gone by? You’re right – spam has officially moved into the world of social media, and it’s like winning the lottery for cyber thugs.

What is Social Spam?

Nothing more than junk posts on your social media sites luring you to click on links that download malicious software onto your computer or mobile device.

Social media (especially Facebook and Twitter) are under assault by social spam. Even Facebook cautions that the social spam volume is growing more rapidly than their user base. The spam-fighting teams at both Facebook and Twitter are growing rapidly. The previous handful of special engineers has seen the inclusion of lawyers, user-operations managers, risk analysts, spam-science programmers and account-abuse specialists. Spammers are following the growing market share, exploiting our web of social relationships. Most of us are ill-prepared to defend against such spam attacks. Here’s how social spam tends to work:

  1. Malware infects your friend’s computer, smartphone or tablet, allowing the spammer to access their Facebook or Twitter account exactly as if the spammer were your friend.
  2. The spammer posts a message on your friend’s Facebook or Twitter page offering a free iPad, amazing coupons or a video you can’t ignore.
  3. You click on the link, photo, Like button (see Like-jacking below) or video and are taken to a website that requires you to click a second time to receive the coupon, video, etc. It’s this second click that kills you, as this is when you authorize the rogue site to download malware onto your computer (not a coupon or video).
  4. The malware infects your computer just like it has your friend’s and starts the process all over again using your contacts, your wall and your profile to continue the fraud.
  5. Eventually, the spammer has collected a massive database of information including email addresses, login information and valuable social relationship data that they can exploit in many ways. In the process, the malware may have given them access to other data on your computer like bank logins, personal information or sensitive files. In a highly disturbing growth of criminal activity, social malware can actually impersonate users, initiating one-on-one Facebook chat sessions without your consent.

“Like-jacking” involves convincing Facebook users to click on an image or a link that looks as if a friend has clicked the “Like” button, thereby recommending that you follow suit. If our friends Like it, why shouldn’t we. So we click and download in an almost automated response. The key is to interrupt this automatic reflex before we get stung.

Fighting social spam requires immense investments of time, which can mean lost productivity (and money). Gratefully, various company site-integrity teams watch trends in user activity to spot spam. Every day, Facebook says it blocks 200 million malicious actions, such as messages linking to malware. The company can’t prevent spam, but it’s diligently working to make it harder to create and use fake profiles.

But never count on someone else to protect what is yours. You must Own Up to your responsibility. Follow these 5 Steps to Minimize the Risks of Social Spam:

  1. If the offer in the post is too enticing, too good to be true or too bad to be real, Don’t Click.
  2. If you do click and aren’t taken directly to what you expected, make sure you Don’t Click a 2nd Time. This gives the spammer the ability to download malware to your system.
  3. Don’t let hackers gain access to your account in the first place – use strong alpha-numberic-upper-lower case passwords that are different for every site and that you change frequently.
  4. Remember, in a world where your friend’s accounts are pretty easily taken over, not all friends are who they say they are. Be judicious. If something they post is out of character, it might not be them writing the post. Call them and verify.
  5. Don’t befriend strangers. Your ego wins, but you loose.
  6. Make sure you have updated computer security: operating system patches, robust passwords, file encryption, security software, firewall and protected Wi-Fi connection.

John Sileo is an award-winning author and international speaker on the dark art of deception (identity theft, data privacy, social media manipulation) and it’s polar opposite, the powerful use of trust, to achieve success. He is CEO of The Sileo Group, which advises teams on how to multiply performance by building a culture of deep trust. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, the FDIC, and Homeland Security. Sample his Keynote Presentation (he shares how he lost $300,000, 2 years and his business to data breach) or watch him on Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes or Fox Business. 1.800.258.8076.

7 Steps to Stem Facebook Privacy Bleeding

, , ,

Why You Should Share Facebook Privacy Settings with Friends

A true friend does more than just post updates about their conquests on your wall. They share information with you that makes your life better, even if it isn’t exactly what you want to hear. And you do the same for them. But are your friends unwittingly sharing too much information about you with others (strangers, advertisers, app developers, scammers)? Probably. For example, if they (or you) haven’t customized your privacy settings lately, you are giving Facebook permission to:

  • Publish your name, photo, birth date, hometown and friend list to everyone?
  • Indirectly share your restricted data with outsiders through your friends?
  • Let your friends check you in to embarrassing locations where you aren’t?
  • Post your Likes as advertisements on friends’ walls using your name?
  • Authorize Google to index, access and share your information on the web?

Taking simple steps will make a significant difference. Start with the 7 Facebook Privacy Settings below and ask your friends to do the same. It benefits their privacy and yours. The video to the left quickly walks you through how to get to each level of privacy setting. If the video is too small for you to see the pointer, simply click on the four arrows in the bottom right-hand corner of the video viewer (to the right of the YouTube logo) to view in full-screen mode. For better resolution, use the drop down menu to switch to 720 HD.

7 Facebook Privacy Settings to Share with Your Friends

  1. Hide Your Hometown, Friends & Interests from Strangers. You may want every last soul on Facebook to know who your friends are, but your friends might not appreciate being part of your popularity contest. And believe me, you don’t want outsiders knowing where you live, where you were born and what interests you. To block people other than your friends from seeing your these items, in the upper right hand corner of your home Facebook screen once you are logged in, click Account>>Privacy Settings. Then go to View Settings (under Connecting on Facebook). Set See your friend list, See your current city and hometown, See your education & work and See your likes, activities and other connections to Friends Only. You can even block everyone, including friends, from seeing these personal tidbits by clicking on the Everyone button, selecting Customize and choosing Only Me.
  2. Restrict (or alter) Your Personally Identifying Information (PII). Facebook PII includes your Birthday, Address, Email, IM Screen Name and Phone Numbers. With just your name, birthdate and hometown, a scammer can easily recreate your Social Security number, steal your identity, or rob your home while you’re on vacation. My recommendation is to leave these fields blank in the first place (where possible) or fill them with partial or inaccurate information (make up a birthdate that is close to yours but not exact. Please note this may be in violation of Facebook’s user policy.). Either way, you should also limit others from accessing your PII. Click on Account>>Privacy Settings and then Customize Settings (towards the bottom of the sharing grid – look for the tiny pencil). Each drop down box to the right allows you to Customize your setting for that item. Using the Customize option, set Birthday (under Things I share) and Address, IM Screen Name, Email, Phone Numbers (under Contact information) to Only Me. Consider setting Religious and political views and Interested in to Only Me or Friends Only as well. The primary way a social engineer (information con artist) exploits you is by understanding what interests you. 
  3. Stop Broadcasting Your Whereabouts in Places. Like the popular application Foursquare, Facebook Places allows you to check in to real-world locations and share your whereabouts with friends (so that burglars know exactly when to rob you). There are two relevant settings regarding Places. First of all, you should limit which users can see which places you can check in to. Click on Account>>Privacy Settings and then Customize Settings (see the first video for direction). Set Places you check in to (under Things I share) to Only Me (using the Customize feature) if you want to disable Places or to Friends Only if you want your friends to know your location. In a very strange default setting, Facebook allows your friends to check you in to places (e.g., a friend checks you in to a strip club while you are at the library). To turn this off, on the same screen, click on Edit Settings next to Friends can check me in to Places (under Things others share). In the drop down menu, choose Disabled and click Okay.
  4. Limit How Your Photos & Videos are Shared. If you allow everyone to see photos or videos in which you are tagged (the default), anyone can post a compromising photo of you (friend or otherwise) and then share it with the world by tagging you in the photo. This can lead to some very embarrassing situations (you’d never post the pictures taken at the bachelorette party, but the scorned bridesmaid just might). There are two settings you need to change to fix this. First, click on Account>>Privacy Settings and then Customize Settings (find the pencil). Click on Edit Settings next to Photos and videos you are tagged in (under Things others share). Change the drop down menu to Customize and change the setting to Only Me if you don’t want others to see your tagged photos or to Friends Only if you want your friends to see the tagged photos. Click Save Settings. Then, in respect for your friends, make sure you aren’t accidentally allowing their friends to see photos in which you tag them. To do this, go to Account>>Privacy Settings. Towards the bottom of the page (above the pencil) is a check box that says Let friends of people tagged in my photos and posts see them. Uncheck this box. 
  5. Restrict Google and Apps from Mining Your Identity. By default, Facebook allows search engines like Google and applications (apps) like Farmville access to certain personal information. After all, Facebook is in the business of inventorying your identity and then selling it to vendors and advertisers. To regulate how much is shared, click Account>>Privacy Settings and then Edit your settings (under Apps and Websites in the bottom left-hand corner). First, go to Public search and Edit Settings. Unclick the Enable public search check box to keep the search engines out of your profile. If you use your Facebook profile for business and want to be searchable, leave public search enabled. Next, go to Apps you use and click Edit Settings. Review and Edit every app that has access to your private information or delete the access entirely. Having all of your social networking profiles connected and using Facebook as a centralized login for convenience is a recipe for privacy disaster.
  6. Limit What’s Accessible Through Your Friends. No matter how tightly you lock your privacy down in Facebook, if you don’t restrict what strangers, vendors, advertisers and Friends of Friends can see through your friends, you have done very little to actually protect yourself. Here’s how to limit what your friends can share (knowingly or unknowingly). First, click Account>>Privacy Settings and then Edit your settings (under Apps and Websites in the bottom left-hand corner). Next to Info accessible through your friends, click Edit Settings. You will see an entire list of data that can be accessed through your friends Facebook page, EVEN IF THE SAME INFORMATION ISN’T ACCESSIBLE THROUGH YOUR PAGE (because you customized your privacy settings in steps 1-5). This is quite possibly the most devious aspect of Facebook. I only have two or three items checked here – those pieces of information that I wouldn’t mind seeing on the front cover of USA Today. That is how public these bits of data become if you allow your friends to share them. 
  7. Turn On Your Account Security Features. Facebook has several built-in security features (turned off by default) that make your social networking a safer virtual world. Click on Account>>Account Settings and then Security (left column). First, under Secure Browsing (https), check the box next to Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) whenever possible. The gives you bank-like security when accessing your Facebook pages. Under Login Notifications: When an unrecognized computer or device tries to access my account, check the box next to Send me an email. That way, if someone gains unauthorized access to your Facebook account on a non-registered computer (your computers and phones will be registered), Facebook automatically locks the user out. If you don’t mind sharing your mobile phone number with Facebook (I don’t share my # with them), you can implement Facebook Addictiona third security feature. Under Login Approvals: When an unrecognized computer or device tries to access my account, check the box next to Require me to enter a security code sent to my phone.

If you just took these first 7 Steps to protect your Facebook privacy – congratulations – your profile and data are more secure than 99% of the Facebook population. Now it’s your turn to be a good friend – pass this on to someone you care about, and ask them to spend a few minutes protecting themselves. It’s a win-win for everyone.

John Sileo is the award-winning author of Privacy Means Profit and a keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft prevention and manipulation jujitsu. His clients include the Department of Defense, Blue Cross, Pfizer and Homeland Security. Learn more at www.ThinkLikeASpy.com or contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

Facebook Apps Leaking Your Information

A report was recently published claiming that nearly 100,000 Facebook apps have been leaking  access codes belonging to millions of users’ profiles. Symantec released the report and said that an app security flaw may have given apps and other third parties access to users’  profiles. Facebook maintains that they have no evidence of this occurring.

In their report, Symantec wrote:

We estimate that as of April 2011, close to 100,000 applications were enabling this leakage. We estimate that over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties.

These “access tokens” help apps interact with your profile.They are most often used to post updates from the application to your wall. When you add the applications to your profile you, as the Facebook user, is giving the apps access to your information by accepting their conditions.  According to the investigation, these tokens were included in URLs sent to the application host and were then sent to advertisers and analytics platforms. If the recipient recognized the codes (meaning they have to be qualified to read and write HTML code), they could gain access to the user’s wall’s and profile.

It was announced on Tuesday that the flaw has been fixed by Facebook, but I still recommend that you change your password. And don’t just change it every time Facebook experiences a breach, but every few months. By keeping all of your passwords current and original, you are decreasing the chances that you will be hacked and that your accounts (financial, social, and otherwise) will be compromised.

John Sileo is one of America’s leading Social Networking Security Speakers. You can learn more about Facebook Safety and how to protect yourself online here. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

5 Steps to Avoid Facebook Destruction in Business

, ,

How should my business balance the risks of social media with the rewards of this increasingly dominant and highly profitable marketing medium? That’s the very insightful question that a CEO asked me during a presentation I gave on information leadership for a Vistage CEO conference.

Think of your move into social media (Facebook/Fan/Business Pages, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) like you would approach the task of helping your fifteen-year-old daughter prepare to drive on her own. You love her more than anything on earth and would do anything for her (just like you will go to great lengths grow your business), but that doesn’t mean you just hand her the keys. Trying to forbid or ignore the movement into social marketing is like telling your teen that they can’t get their license. It isn’t going to happen, so you might consider putting down the denial and controlling those pieces of change that are within your power. The task is to maximize the positives of her newly bestowed freedom while minimizing any negatives; the same is true in social media.

Here’s a simple plan to follow that will help keep you safe and productive:

  1. Understand the Risks & Rewards. Just like you need to know the risks of a teen driving (peer pressure, alcohol, inexperience, inferior equipment), you need to fully understand the risks of operating this powerful piece of equipment we call social media or social networking. Privacy Concerns: Users who fail to customize their Facebook privacy, security and sharing settings are giving away massive amounts of information to other Facebook users, Facebook Vendors (e.g., Farmville), Facebook itself and potentially competitors, thieves and social engineers. Over Exposure: You can share too much on Facebook, including posts, photos and videos that you later regret uploading. If done improperly or without thought, this can lead to increased risk of identity theft, reputation hijacking, burglary or fraud. Reputation Damage: AFLAC fired comedian Gilbert Godfrey as their spokesperson for making a negative comment about the insurance giant on his wall. How you and your employees use social media directly influences your reputation.  Account Takeover: Imagine a pornography crime-ring taking over your fan page for a day. It’s usually not this extreme of a case, but accounts are constantly being compromised and used for nefarious and illegal purposes (sending SPAM, peddling pornography, covering crimes). Just because there are risks doesn’t mean you abandon the medium. It means that you prepare for them, just like training your daughter to drive defensively, break properly on ice and make smart choices about who gets in the car.
  2. Define Your Destination. Many businesses that utilize social media don’t actually know why they are using it, other than it’s the thing to do. But using it effectively takes a huge time and knowledge investment, so make sure you define what you want to achieve before you invest. Are you there to make friends, to network, to increase visibility, reshape your reputation or improve customer service? Driving without a destination in mind might be fun, but it will ultimately get you nowhere.
  3. Choose the Right Equipment. Once you have defined your objective, you will have a better idea of which social medium to use (Facebook, Fan Page, Twitter, etc.). If your objective is to get your daughter safely from one place to another, you will choose a very different car than if you are trying to enhance her image with friends by buying a sports car. Trying to be part of every last social network means that you will use none of them effectively. Choose one or two platforms and take the time to perform the final two steps.
  4. Fasten Your Seat belt. An hour spent understanding and modifying the default privacy and security settings (which are very lax by default) on Facebook or another social site can save you and your organization tragic amounts of data loss and abuse. Our refusal as a society to take this simple, available step to protect our information is the equivalent of not fastening our seat belts while driving. Is it slightly inconvenient and a occasionally uncomfortable? Yes. Does it drastically increase your safety? Without question. With great power comes great responsibility, and we must start communicating that to others around us.
  5. Educate Your Driver. This knowledge, from awareness to customization, is only effective if it is passed on to others. You might know how to drive safely, but that doesn’t mean your daughter has picked it up by osmosis. The same is true inside of your organization; it’s not good enough for you do drive safely, the other members of the team must do the same – and not just for their own good, but because it also helps you be safe. After all, just like your daughter will ride in another teen’s car (and you want them to be well trained), your contacts will be handling your data in a social context (think of the picture of you at a St. Patrick’s Day party they consider posting) and need to know how to treat it.

There is nothing gained by ignoring or denying this social movement. It won’t be stopped and you will be part of it, either directly or indirectly. In turn, your business will be affected by how the employees and executives approach and even leverage the energy of social media. If you’re not out there educating your drivers, they are off doing it on their own anyway, seat belt-less and clueless.

John Sileo trains organizations on information leadership, including social media control, identity theft prevention and reputation management. His satisfied clients include the Department of Defense, FDIC, Pfizer and Homeland Security. To bring John in to speak to your organization, contact his staff on 800.258.8076 or watch him entertain audiences with vital content at www.ThinkLikeASpy.com.