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Tag Archives for " Social Networking "

Staying safe and minimizing risk while using social media

Do your friends make questionable decisions on social media? Yes, because many of our friends actually help scammers share their message, many because they are not well-informed. But just in case you’re in any doubt about how important it is to proceed with caution on social media, consider these three factors:

  1. The web is a dangerous place: The security company Sucuri scanned about 10 million websites and found 26% of them were compromised (hosting malicious injections or otherwise blacklisted).
  2. People are sharing more personal data than ever: That’s not just a hunch, that was the finding of a seven-year study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University: Silent Listeners: The Evolution of Privacy and Disclosure on Facebook.
  3. Consumers are not the only victims: Criminals conducting cyber attacks against companies are finding social media a great resource (there are several social media attack scenarios in the recently published Trustwave 2013 Global Security Report).

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Spam/Phishing Spreads Through Facebook Chat, Events & Messages

Recently, a new wave of spam messages, chat messages, and events requests have been flooding the site, and the volume has only surged in the past few days.

What do we mean by phishing? Most would be familiar with the term but for those who aren’t, I’m referring to fake emails that try to trick people into revealing their log-in details. Internet banking is a common target for this sort of social engineering hacking and versions for Amazon and eBay.

Sometimes spam and phishing attempts give themselves away with dodgy spelling or unprofessional layouts but in this case the emails look exactly like real private messages from Facebook.

If you are Facebook friends with some less techie types, then you might want to warn them. In this case, it appears to be straightforward spam rather than phishing. As many users have also noticed, numerous chat messages and event rsvp request are flooding the site, offering free iPhones. Fortunately Facebook is aggressively filtering many of these pages and alerting users that the pages may be abusive, however that isn’t preventing the scammers from sending them.

We’re assuming that the volume will die down as Facebook steps up its preventative measures, however it’s pretty clear that numerous accounts have been successfully phished and hacked. If you see messages like the ones described, do not respond or click on them as they will only result in the spam attack continuing to spread.

adapted via allfacebook.com

Your Photos Can Your Reveal Secrets

You can easily find out where people live, what kind of things they have in their house and also when they are going to be away.

Security experts and privacy advocates have recently begun warning about the potential dangers of geotags, which are embedded in photos and videos taken with GPS-equipped smartphones and digital cameras. Because the location data is not visible to the casual viewer, the concern is that many people may not realize it is there; and they could be compromising their privacy, if not their safety, when they post geotagged media online.

Very few people know about geotag capabilities and the only way you can turn off the function on your smartphone is through an invisible menu that no one really knows about.

Indeed, disabling the geotag function generally involves going through several layers of menus until you find the “location” setting, then selecting “off” or “don’t allow.” But doing this can sometimes turn off all GPS capabilities, including mapping, so it can get complicated.

Because of the way photographs are formatted by some sites like Facebook, geotag information is not always retained when an image is uploaded, which provides some protection, albeit incidental. Other sites like Flickr have recently taken steps to block access to geotag data on images taken with smartphones unless a user explicitly allows it.

But experts say the problem goes far beyond social networking and photo sharing Web sites, regardless of whether they offer user privacy settings.

You need to educate yourself and your friends but in the end, you really have no control, protecting your privacy is not just a matter of being aware and personally responsible. A friend may take a geotagged photo at your house and post it.

ICanStalkU.com provides step-by-step instructions for disabling the photo geotagging function on iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Palm devices.

adapted via nytimes.com

  • 08/18/2010
  • OS

Facebook users are now better protected from unauthorized password changes

Facebook users are now better protected from unauthorized password changes and suspicious logins thanks to a new set of security features.

The first: if a user enters an old password that has since been changed, Facebook now tells the user when the password was changed and asks if the user remembers doing so. If they don’t remember, they are asked to verify their identity, and are prompted to reset their password or use the hacked account self-recovery tool.

The second change: if an account is logged into from somewhere distant from its usual login location, the person accessing the account will also be brought through the identity verification flow which instead of changing passwords involves identifying friends in photographs.

However, it’s not perfect. Some users have friends they can’t recognize by photo, or are prompted to identify people in photos that only include logos, pets, or other indistinguishable images — and they have been mistakenly locked out of their accounts by this identity verification method.

via insidefacebook.com

3 Safe Social Networking Tips

Social Networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc are great for connecting with others. But you must exercise some caution or you might end up getting some bad results. Below are three to keep you safe out there:

Be careful who you add as a friend to your social networking account.
Day in and day out you probably post personal information such as names of people you know, where you work, where you’re currently at, what you’re doing, etc. Not to mention other personal information is littered across the site, potentially phone numbers, addresses, where you go to school, where you work, etc. This information can be used against you in many different ways, (such as how personal info is often used as security questions for online accounts to reset your password) so be careful who you grant access to your social networking account.

Keep a close eye on what applications you add. There are many applications on social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, etc which enhance our social networking experience. What we often don’t consider is what kind of privileges we’re bestowing to the people who wrote the software. Just as programs you install on your computer can do malicious things, apps you add to your profile can do malicious things as well, or in the very least unexpected things. Things like giving programs the ability to post to your profile without needing your approval, giving apps access to information about you on your profile that they don’t necessarily need to know to perform their intended function, and just generally giving these apps access to a lot of information about you and a lot of privileges on your page that you don’t necessarily want someone else you’ve never even met to have.

Watch out for strange messages from your friends which are full of bad spelling and grammar, and contain links to external pages (youtube is a popular scapegoat, but any page could be used). Even if your friend isn’t exactly a Harvard professor, bad grammar and spelling in messages is often a tell tale sign of a malicious or spam message that your friend didn’t really write. There are worms and other malware, a prime example being the Koobface worm, which spread fake messages asking you to check out a video in a link, or some other action. The link actually leads to an attack site where a script will try to install malware on your computer. Not exactly the gold you were expecting at the end of the rainbow, huh?

Facebook scam – Never gonna drink Coca Cola again

If one of your friends said they were never going to drink Coca Cola again after watching a horrific video, would you be tempted to watch the video? Judging by the number of Facebook users who have posted status updates claiming they are never going to drink Coca Cola again, it seems plenty found it an invitation impossible to resist.

A typical message reads:

I am part of the 98.0% of people that are NEVER gonna drink Coca Cola again after this HORRIFIC video –> http://www.[removed]

Find out the TRUTH about Coke!!!

If you do click on the link you will find yourself on a website saying that “9/10 People said they WOULDN’T drink Coca Cola After seeing this video!!!” above a thumbnail of a video which says that “Coca Cola can’t hide its crimes”.

Perhaps surprisingly, this webpage isn’t exploiting the now familiar click-jacking technique to falsely claim that the Facebook user “Like”s the page without the user’s permission. Instead, they say you can’t watch the “horrific video” until you’ve shared the link on Facebook by hand seven times.

The page claims to poll whether you have shared the link enough (in order to allow the video to be viewed). But when you realize you’re not making any progress – despite your valiant attempts to recommend the link to all and sundry – you might hit the link which says:

>>>Cant Be Bothered To Wait? –> Click Here To Skip This<<<

And this link takes you to a survey which asks you for all sorts of personal information.

So, it works like this:

You’re on Facebook. One of your friends posts that they are part of the 98.0% of people that are never going to drink Coca Cola again after watching a horrific video. You visit the link to see what all the fuss is about, click on “Like” or “Share” umpteen times to distribute the link to your friends, and end up answering all kinds of questions and giving away personal information.

Meanwhile, all your friends are also clicking “Like”, posting links to their friends, answering questions and giving their personal data away, and never actually seeing what they started out wanting to see. Meanwhile their friends..

and so on..

Via Sophos Blog

  • 07/15/2010
  • IT

Another Facebook attack!

Avoid clicking any links saying “99% of people can’t watch this video for more than 25 seconds.”

Today, AVG discovered an interesting bit of maliciousness on Facebook. The initial lure is a link that says that 99% of people can’t watch this video for more than 25 seconds.

When you click the link, you are confronted with another screen that offers to show you a video, but, for the video to load, you need to copy and paste some code into the browser address bar.

If you are paying attention, you notice that you are adding javascript to your address bar, and you might smell a rat, and stop at this point.

If you are not paying attention, you are taken to a page which automatically tells all your friends that you like the app, and it posts that link to your status. It must be effective, because at the time of writing, it had nearly 600k “friends” that liked it.

To see it in action, watch the video here:

Via AVG Blogs

  • 07/08/2010
  • IT

Facebook’s New, Simpler Privacy Controls

Facebook’s new privacy settings will roll out to users over the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye on your Facebook page for a privacy prompt.

Controlling Sharing with Others

Instead of having many different content categories to choose from, some of the categories have been combined. For example, “status, photos, and posts” are all now in one category, and you can choose to share them with everyone, friends of friends, or friends only. Further, some categories have been removed from this section, like activities and interests.

There are “quick links” on the side that allow you to modify all your categories viewable to “everyone” or “friends of friends, as well as a quick setting for Facebook’s recommended settings. You can also customize it to your liking, picking your own privacy setting for each category. A green check mark shows which choice in the sidebar you’re currently using, which makes it pretty easy to see what you’re sharing.

Your Directory Information

Facebook has responded to criticism about information that is automatically shard publicily, like your pages and list of friends. When someone search for you, they’ll be able to see your name, profile picture, gender, and networks, so people can tell who you are when they search. However, there is another interesting addition to this list: Facebook has decided to make your activities and other interests public so people with similar interests can connect with you. There does not seem to be any way to change this to a more private setting. This certainly does simplify things, but it seems like it defeats the purpose of making the other stuff private by default—and it makes us wonder whether they were really listening to the complaints at all this whole time.


They have kept the “opt out” model as opposed to “opt in” as far as sharing your information with applications and other web sites. Again, though, it is simpler—now it’s one single option instead of many. You can view applications, remove any you don’t want, or turn off all applications completely, meaning none of your information will be shared.

By default, applications have access to any information that is set to public (i.e. information viewable in searches and information set to be viewable by “everyone”), and applications will ask your permission to view any private data when you install them. So, again, it’s sort of an improvement, but it also seems like they’re trying to pull a fast one on unsuspecting users by making the whole thing opt-out—another major complaint of the past few months that Facebook seems to have just ignored.
Block Lists

Lastly is your block list, which was already pretty simple, and has just been kept as its own setting. From here you can block friends and applications from your view; so you won’t see their posts on your news feed or anywhere else.

What Hasn’t Changed

There are a few things that are still around and should be familiar to anyone who’s taken a look at privacy settings before. You can still set preferences on a post-by-post basis, so if your statuses are set to public but you have one status update that you only want your friends to see, you can just click the lock under the status update box. Also, you can control who can view photos and posts you’ve been tagged in, but you can’t stop people from tagging you, which was one of the glaring features missing in Facebook’s privacy settings before.

As we said, the new privacy settings will roll out over the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for a prompt on your Facebook page when you login over the coming days.

via Facebook Blog

  • 05/27/2010
  • IT

Facebook Privacy Features Revealed and Explained

While Facebook used to assume that you didn’t want to share much personal data with the world outside of their walled garden, the service now seems to be taking a fairly liberal stance on the issue, with recent changes exposing more information about you to the outside world than ever before. But users who take a little time to arm themselves with information about the changes find that they have more control over their privacy than ever before.

Be prepared this will take a while :^)

Before you venture into the privacy options, let’s first visit Account Settings under the same menu.

First Things First: My Account

At the top of the My Account page, you’ll find seven tabs. The one we’re interested in is the last one on the right side: Facebook Ads. These newly-added settings are among the most potentially suspect that Facebook has enacted, since they control how advertising using your data is displayed on the site to your friends–and someday, even to third parties.

The Facebook Ads settings include two controls, and currently they either allow ads to be displayed to friends with your information, or to no one at all. The first setting controls ads displayed by third parties; Facebook is quick to note that they do not give such applications or ad networks the right to use your name or photo(s) in ads, but that could change in the future. If the mere idea of that sends a chill down your spine (as well it should), change the “Allow ads on platform pages to show my information to” setting from “Only my friends” (which is the default) to “No one.”

Likewise, the setting at the bottom of this page controls how your information is used in Facebook-generated ads. As you can see from the two sample ads on the settings page above, by default Facebook can use your personal tastes to help sway your friends into also becoming fans of things that you like. If you find this somewhat nefarious and would prefer to opt out of the practice, change the “Show my social actions in Facebook Ads to” setting to “No one.” Now your friends will have to decide for themselves what’s hip and cool.

Be sure to hit the “Save Changes” after each choice, otherwise your new options won’t take effect.

Now let’s go back to the Account menu in the top right corner of the screen and select Privacy Settings from the submenu. You’ll then be presented with six sections to control how your information is presented. Let’s select the first one, Personal Information and Posts.

Privacy Settings

Once inside, you’ll be greeted by nine options that control how most of your key personal data is presented. For all but two of these, you can choose to display the data to Everyone, Friends of Friends, Only Friends or Customize.

First, let’s take a look at what each option does.

Everyone – Anything with that option selected is exposed to the world, both within Facebook and beyond – to the ends of the cyber world. In general, you’d be wise to use the Everyone option sparingly, especially with personal details such as who you’re interested in or looking for and maybe even your religious and political views, since those tend to be hot topics in today’s world. Keep in mind that many potential employers are turning to sites like Facebook to see what you’re really like — by choosing “Everyone,” you’re potentially letting these people see your deepest, darkest secrets (assuming you choose to share them in such a public forum to begin with). However, there are a few settings where you want to keep Everyone selected, such as enabling potential new friends to find you in the first place, which we’ll get into shortly.

Friends of Friends – gives both your friends and anyone they might be friends with the ability to see your data — not really a big deal since in many cases, you likely have many of the same friends as your friends. But if you and your friends share a mutual acquaintance that they love and you don’t particularly care for, this setting is not for you — it will give that unwelcome non-friend the opportunity to peek into your Facebook world. We’d say play it safe, and also use this option sparingly.

Only Friends – is the easiest choice to make, it allows you to control what people see based on who you allow to be your Facebook friend in the first place. As long as you’re particular about who you allow into your close circle of Facebook friends, this may be the only privacy setting you need. After all, in the future you can block (or even defriend) them to shut them out of your social life as quickly as you let them in.

Customize – gives you a lot more flexibility than the other settings. In addition to the first three options, you can choose to make certain sections visible only to specific friends or even only to yourself; likewise, you can also hide certain functions from specific people, simply by entering their name or even the name of a friend list, if you want to block out a whole group of people.

You may have noticed in the upper right section of the Privacy Settings there is a button marked “Preview My Profile.” At any time, you can click this to display your profile with your current settings and see how non-friends will view your page. You can even type the name of specific people, if you’ve done any customized privacy selections, so you can view your page the way they’ll be able to see it.

Personal Information and Posts

Bio and Quotations – covers your biographical information in the About Me section of your page, including any favorite quotes you may have entered there.

Birthday – is exactly that, your birth date and year.

Interested In and Looking For – allows others to see what your intentions are for using Facebook: Are you just looking for friends, business colleagues or maybe a new lover?

Religious and Political Views – will show whatever options you have selected there, which many people might consider private and choose to withhold from the public.

Photo Albums – The Photo Albums privacy settings are more complicated. Click on Edit Settings and you’ll see a list of all your photo albums, with individual privacy options for each one. For instance, you might want to share photos of your recent vacation with the world, but another album with photos of your wife giving birth might be saved only for your true friends and family. Make your choices and then click on the Privacy link at the top to return to the main six options.

Now let’s go back into Personal Information and Posts and look at the remaining choices.

Posts by Me – gives you control over how your status updates, links, notes, photos and videos are displayed to the world, these are likely to reveal your true self to the world, so choose your privacy setting wisely here.

Allow friends to post on my Wall – simply an on or off setting: By default, your friends are allowed to post stuff on your Wall. If you don’t want this, uncheck the box on the right side.

Posts by Friends and Comments on Posts – The first option simply gives you control over who can see posts that you have allowed friends to make on your profile, while the second does the same for any comments that friends have made on posts that you create. If your friends tend to be vulgar or make comments you wouldn’t want your family to see, you might want to adjust these privacy settings accordingly.

Let’s go back to the main Privacy Settings by clicking “Back to Privacy,” which commits your choices (you always have the option to go back later and revise them). The next section is Contact Information, so let’s go there now.

Contact Information

This section controls how other users can view the various methods of contacting you outside of Facebook, including IM Screen Name, Mobile Phone, Other Phone, Current Address, Website and any e-mail addresses you’ve added to the service. You always have the option of excluding most of this information to begin with, in which case these privacy settings don’t really matter. Unless your list of Facebook friends are truly people you know personally, we’d advise caution, this is the information that stalkers would consider a goldmine.

There are two options on this page where you probably will want to use the default “Everyone” setting.

Add me as a friend – allows any and all to find you in a Facebook search, using whatever information from your profile that you have allowed to be public. If you change this from the default setting, it’s likely you’ll never get any friend requests, because no one will be able to find you on the site.

Send me a message – controls who can actually send you a message through Facebook. There’s not much reason to change the default “Everyone” setting, since you can always block (or even tag as spam) any unwanted messages through the feature, and you’re not revealing any private data such as your personal e-mail address. But if you really want to only be contacted by friends (or friends of friends), feel free to change this setting.

Friends, Tags and Connections

Friends – controls how your friends list is displayed to others; if you leave this at the default “Everyone,” then anyone can browse your list of friends in search of others they might know.

Family – shares your connections with relatives, which is probably best shared only with friends in most cases. Ditto for “Relationships,” which shares details on your spouse or children, including anniversaries.

Photos and Videos of Me – gives you control over how your friends can share this data with others. While they are free to tag you in a photo or video, if you have this option set for “Only Friends,” then outsiders won’t be able to see the photo, regardless of which privacy setting your friend has selected.

Current City, Hometown, and Education and Work – These are options you might want to leave available to Everyone, since it will help old classmates track you down based on where & when you went to school and where you grew up.

Activities, Interests, and Things I Like – These options are more personal and probably best shared only with friends, since they show how you spend your time. Of course, you’re also free to leave such sections blank, in which case it won’t matter what privacy settings you select here.

Applications and Websites

The first option, “What you share,” isn’t really an option at all, but rather a “Learn More” button which attempts to explain this section better.

What friends can share about you

If you’re a paranoid type by nature, you might choose to quickly uncheck all of these choices, but some of them can be useful, depending upon how you use Facebook. For example, if you uncheck “My photos” then your friends won’t be able to share your photos with others. If you like to post links from other websites to your Facebook Wall, you might also want to leave “My links” checked, so your friends have the option of also sharing them. If you don’t want anything you’ve posted on Facebook to leave the site, uncheck all of these options and click “Save Changes.”

The next two settings aren’t really privacy settings — instead, they let you edit any applications you may have blocked or friends you’ve chosen to ignore. If you haven’t done either, you can ignore these; otherwise, you might take a moment to check these lists and make sure you’re not missing out on something you might actually be interested in.

Activity on Applications and Games Dashboards – controls how others can see what you’ve been up to with applications and games your friends have shared. If you tend to kill a lot of time playing games on Facebook, you might want to adjust this setting so that fewer people know about it.

Instant Personalization

Facebook’s new controversial Instant Personalization Pilot Program. Click on the Edit Setting button and you get a page with only one option: “Allow select partners to instantly personalize their features with my public information when I first arrive on their websites.” This setting is checked (and active) by default, and most people opt to un-select it immediately, since it’s one of the bigger invasions of privacy on Facebook so far.

Currently, the “partner sites” are limited to MicrosoftDocs.com, Pandora and Yelp, which pull your personal data to determine what relevant content to display to you. While you can opt out of this “experience” on each individual site, it’s probably better to send a message to Facebook by opting out completely so they don’t continue to use our personal data.


Facebook Search Results – allows other permission to search and find your profile within the Facebook site itself. This option is relatively benign, since you control how your profile is presented and what information you’re showing to non-friends elsewhere. Want to be found by old friends just joining Facebook? You should leave this one at “Everyone.”

Public Search Results – determines how your profile is viewed on search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc). If you’re not comfortable with any part of your profile turning up in a search engine, uncheck the Allow option immediately. (it’s selected by default.)

Block List

You can block people by adding either their name or e-mail. If you’ve blocked someone, it will show their name or e-mail address in a list and you can remove the block at any time. This setting is particularly useful if someone is contacting you from outside of Facebook that you don’t want to hear from, and you don’t want to limit everyone by changing your privacy setting to “Only Friends.”


You’ve mastered Facebook’s privacy options! Despite how confusing Facebook has made most of their privacy settings, it’s nice to at least have the options available, maybe they will work to make things a little simpler, too.

You feel safer already, don’t you?  Share the security with your friend and family.

Dig Deeper:

Official Facebook Privacy Page

Official Facebook Blog
Official Facebook Help Center

Adapted from maclife

  • 05/21/2010
  • IT

As Parents what can we do to protect our children using Facebook?

You would never let your child play alone at an unfamiliar place, so you shouldn’t let your children, tweens or teens spend endless unsupervised time on Facebook — without adult supervision, either.

“Sometimes parents are intimidated by the technology and don’t understand it,” said Rose, co-author of the new book The Facebook Guide For Parents. “But it’s really important to make sure you are there to see what’s going on.”

The guide offers step-by-step instructions on navigating the social media site. It pays special attention to safety issues including the correct privacy settings for children; what to do about cyber-bullying; and ways to educate children and parents about what they can and cannot post. The book, $25, can be downloaded, and includes a contract that parents can have their children sign to keep Facebook activity in check.

Perhaps you’ll be surprised to find that Rose and her co-authors, Lisa McKenzie, Francine Allaire and Cindy Ratzlaff, are fans of Facebook and other social media. But in doing research for their work, these mothers, aunts and sisters realized many people, especially children, weren’t aware that their personal information was posted in cyberspace for all to see. In fact, more than 9 million children between 13 and 17 are registered Facebook users.

Here are their suggestions for parents:

Join Facebook
Even if you aren’t interested in social media, set up your own account and insist that your son or daughter “friend’ you. Strike a bargain that you won’t comment on their wall (at least on regularly). Remind them that it’s your job to protect them and you need to be there to watch what they say and the people they talk to. Ask other people to help you keep an eye on activity. Ask aunts, uncle, cousins, grandparents and even other parents to join and become your child’s Facebook friend. In this global world “it takes a village” to keep everyone safe, Rose said.

Review settings
Just because it’s “social” doesn’t mean your child’s Facebook profile has to be “personal.” Too many people share too much information about themselves.Children, and even adults, should never list a list a home address, telephone number or show their full birthday, which makes them an easy target for identity theft. In the profile section, only month and day should show. In addition, Rose suggest removing hometown and school names if they are listed; again, too much information. Under the “privacy settings” make sure personal information, posts, contact information and friend information are available to “friends only.” When the box says “everyone” that means everyone on the Internet. Even the box that reads “friends of friends” opens your child up to too many strangers.

Set rules
Explain to your child that they shouldn’t write anything they wouldn’t say in a face-to-face conversation. Basically, don’t share anything you wouldn’t want your mother or father to see. Share with them that, an inappropriate comment today can affect a college application or job interview in the future. Tell children they cannot be “friends” with adults they do not know. If an unknown person asks to be your child’s friend, report that person immediately.

Watch out for bullies
While strangers are a worry, cyber-bullying is an even more common problem on Facebook, Rose said. Let your child know that it’s unacceptable to bully others. If he or she is the victim, make it clear they must tell you immediately. Parents can e-mail the information to Facebook’s safety center, without your child or the perpetrator knowing. The posts will be eliminated and the bully removed from the site.

Check back often
Pay attention to your child’s friends and what they are talking about. If you don’t like something, don’t comment online. Talk about it with your child in person.
Fan pages » Pay attention to the groups or “fan pages” he or she has joined. These can be public sites and might provide ways that strangers can access your child’s personal information.
Ch-ch-changes » Facebook is continually changing. Every 30 days, look through the personal and privacy settings to make sure things haven’t changed and they are set the way you want. Also, google your child’s name on occasion to see what kind of information is posted on the internet.

Locate your computer in a “Public Place”
Parents should have the “family pc” in a well traveled area (dinning room, etc) that they can causually glace at while their kids are online…or encourage the kids they can use their WiFi laptops in the living room.

Get the Facebook Guide For Parents now >>

Adapted from sltrib.com

  • 05/20/2010
  • IT
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