A good CBC doc was on yesterday about facebook security, privacy, and crime in general centered around
Doc Zone – Facebook Follies
I’ve long since taken the majority of photos off facebook, initially because I believed that they owned the photos and rights once they were up. I’m not 100% sure on that but I’m not taking any chances. And with all the personal information like phone numbers, emails, addresses, full family names and such, I’ve also removed some of that. For instance I often use bogus birth dates just to keep the misinformation out there.
So who cares if your personal info is on facebook right, people can look it up on the internet on canada411.ca and access freely available information from government agencies and all that right? Well partly right. For example, I search my name and province on Canada411, got a pile of results, none of which were me though. So those other sources aren’t A) all in one place and B) they often provide a lot more results which makes it harder to pull all the info together.
Sure it can be done theives can get any info on you they want BUT, what makes the difference in most cases is the effort required. See if they have a choice between you and the next guy and your information is consolidated on facebook and the other guy has his info spread out across various websites, the thief is going to go the easy route and pick off the ones he can take advantage of in less time.
And therein lies the key, you can never be 100% protected online. Just like you can’t be 100% protected in your house, if its the wrong time and you’re in the wrong place chances are somethings going to happen. What you can do is make yourself less of a target, let the bad guys look at you and not bother because it will take them extra time to figure stuff out. HOw do you do that? By closing your account on facebook? Well no..
Here are some general internet security rules:
1) Create strong passwords for all your logins, 8 letters, alphanumeric, caps, special characters. Just make it strong, this is a super simple way to secure yourself and its one of the direct ways criminals cause trouble as most people pic simple guessable passwords, or use their birthdays etc…
2) Limit the information you post on the internet. Is there a need to post a family tree of all your brothers and sisters with addresses and emails attached etc? Probably not.
3) Be smart about what you’re sharing, do people need to know the town you’re in? Why not just use the province?
4) Provide misinformation – this is where you enter bogus birthdates, or locations that are not 100% accurate.
5) Don’t make your email address freely available – this prevents spam and phishing attacks and such
6) Don’t go to crazy unknown websites on your computer, sketchy ones. A lot of websites add tracking cookies which hold your IP address for example or that infect your computer.
7) When checking email or facebook or your bank account, ensure HTTPS is used. Its shown in the URL. It encrypts the communication. All banks now I would think force it, facebook provides the choice, and most email providers have it but sometimes its an option to force using it each time (its an option in gmail to force it)
8) Don’t use things like facebook places, or foursquare. To me you’re just asking to be mugged. Because people know you have atleast a smartphone and if a smartphone, you probably have other money and they can find you based on where you’re checking in
Now I’m not perfect with all of this stuff but if you start doing things like this and keeping an eye on what you’re putting out there, you’ll likely be less of a target then the next guy which is exactly what you want. There will never be a way to eliminate yourself as a target unless you live as a hermit in northern Ontario with no birth records or family left in the world and no communication with anybody :S
If there is easy crime to commit, criminals will always take the easy crime route before going the harder route.
So those are my suggestions on it. We live in a world of technology and the answer isn’t to shun it all. Just to live a bit more smartly (at least smarter then the next guy) around that technology.