Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tired of being advised not to use Social Networking Sites like Facebook due to Security and Privacy Risks?

I am a firm advocate that social networking sites are a wonderful place to network and socialize. Since I reluctantly became a member, I was reunited with several friends. Hectic schedules, time zones and physical distance faded away with 140 byte wall posts that were read and replied to at leisure. Gadgets like mobile phone cameras captured and uploaded instantly intimate moments bringing warmth and togetherness.
Once online, our world expands with new friends a click away, recommended by Facebook, sometimes the pretty girl or handsome boy who is a friend of a friend or simply a sexy online pen pal.  Besides posts and pictures our friends invite us to join use groups, recommend favorite links and play online games. Eventually, our online world meets the real one through get together events with long lost friends, and unknown pen pals.
This new world runs on TRUST
  • We trust that our friends profile is genuine
  • We trust the links sent by our friends or invitations to games does not expose our data or personal identity
  • We trust unknown pen pals and the genuineness of intention based on his/her profile and posts
  • We trust social networking sites not to sell or expose personal posts, pictures intentionally or unintentionally
  • We trust that our friend will not backstab us
Sadly, exploiting TRUST is what the cyber criminal and the unfaithful friend lives on, whether it is through
  • The fake profile that guides us to malicious links  or encourages us to download malware which steals personal data, uses our desktop to send spam or malicious posts to our friends
  • The fake use group which captures personal data for a spamster database or identity theft
  • The person who hijacked your friends profile and is requesting monetary assistance with a sob story
  • The friend who sends an urgent message for money as he is stuck in an unknown place
  • The unknown pen pal who in reality is a criminal wanting to lure and intimidate us physically
  • The lost friend who wants to harass or embarrass you
  • If we do not trust we may not enrich our experience. Trust wisely
  • Use commonsense, it is our greatest asset
  • Understand the risks
  • Do background checks and be wary of suspicious behavior
  • Do not click on links and programs because a friend recommended them
  • Withdraw yourself from groups or block people you begin not to trust
  • Do not go unescorted to meet a stranger. This applies to man, woman and child. Men who went to meet the pretty girl have been honey trapped or brutally beaten and robbed
  • Any request for money from the unknown pen pals should be met with the greatest of skepticism. This includes stories of dire need and for air tickets to visit
  • Any request for money from a friend or a friends friend should be verified by a phone call or other means
  • Avoid sexy photographs in your profile as it will attract unwanted attention. But do put a photograph of yourself so that others can verify you
  • Try and limit the dissemination of information you consider sensitive on social networks as technical flaws and business intentions routinely expose this data

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