Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Have you Google yourself lately?

As a first, I am actually sharing something I posted on Facebook on here, versus the other way around.

This isn't a "fun" meme or anything. This is a serious question from someone who has been around the 'net a few times.

I've noticed that several people are passing around this warning about FB security. I've tracked down the article and checked it's claims against my own profile. Strangely, my settings are exactly how I set them and how I refined them when FB asked me a few days ago to look over them. I noticed that several of my very computer literate friends are also not worried about this. However, I do understand how in the rush of life, we easily overlook annoying system messages that pop up on us.

So, here are some suggestions from someone who has actually been cyberstalked a time or two:

1) GOOGLE yourself. See what information is out there on you. Remember that not all information is bad. But also remember what is public so if someone you don't really know brings it up in conversation, you have a good idea where they got it from. If you google someone who you know hasn't gone through their FB security settings, as I have done, you will see that FB is not really sharing that much information about you. The only purpose is to help your friends find you.

2) Google your phone number. See if you come up in the phonebook list. Google in particular has an option to remove a phone number that brings up an address. Remember that the only difference between this and your normal white pages is that it's easier to access. If you are really serious about protecting this information, then you should either get an unlisted number or only use your first initial for your listing.

3) NEVER POST ANYTHING WITH YOUR SS#. This may seem to be a no-brainer, but I have actually had someone post images of a court document on a public post in my livejournal. I immediately deleted the information and gave her a message about protecting herself. The sad thing about it, the information she was sharing with me wasn't really saying what she thought it said - so she was risking her own safety to win an argument with someone who had already withdrawn from the original argument (I guess that why she had gone for my personal lj instead of the community one), and she still didn't prove her point.

4) Always check your security settings whenever you see a message from a site administrator on the subject. Especially when they ask you to.

5) Don't be fearful, be confident. If you know what information is on you and you keep aware, then there is no need to get up in arms when something like this occurs. This is VERY important, because some con-artists will stir up fears to get you to overact and then trick you into giving them access to things you shouldn't, because they are claiming to be protecting you from said threat. This is why Paypal and Amazon have policies on how they address their customers in the mail they send out. This is also why you should NEVER get virus protection from a pop-up message, even if it looks like Windows sent it. I usually install my virus protection on a cd-rom. If you do get it online, make sure you get it from a well-known and trusted vender's site.

Remember that your safety is your responsibility. The internet is not the only way people can get information on you. Even before it became public, it was possible for people to get information on you. Identity theft is not something new, no matter how the press tries to spin it. I moved around some when I was a kid, and because of that, I learned that large public libraries often keep phonebooks from most major cities on file - at least they did in the 1980s. Dumpster diving is still the number one way identity thieves get social security numbers and driver's license numbers of their marks.

And whenever a reporter reports something, check it out for yourself, if you can. It's been my personal experience that reporters are not always the most honest in their presentation of information. Their main job to get readers, after all.

1 comment:

Cosmic Siren said...

Note: If you are going to test this yourself, make sure you are also logged out of Facebook, so you see exactly what a stranger sees. If you're logged in, you will see everything your friend has given you access to, which might make it look like more information is available to the public than really is.