Security Issues With Social Networking Sites
Anyone who posts a profile online needs to be aware of security issues with social networking sites. It's interesting that we go to great lengths to teach our children about Internet safety, but we often forget that these same principles apply to adults as well.
The Positive Side of Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites can be thought of a virtual cocktail party. The site owner opens the doors, and anyone who wants can fill out an online profile and share information with other members. It's a way to connect with people you may not have an opportunity to meet in the "real" world.
Privacy and Security Issues With Social Networking Sites
As wonderful as social networking sites can be, there are some disadvantages associated with using them. Since you can't physically see the people you are interacting with, you only have the image the other person projects to tell you whether they are trustworthy or not. Online relationships, for want of a better expression, lack the kinds of details we get when we meet someone face-to-face.
We get a lot of information about what a person is like from observing the way the individual carries him or herself, tone of voice, and the words they use. When you meet someone through a social networking site, you only see the words they type into the computer. This other important information is missing.
A good strategy is to never put anything on your profile on a social networking site that you wouldn't want to be common knowledge. This includes your contact information (address, home phone and cell phone numbers). You also don't want to reveal the city or town where you live, what your daily routine is, or anything that will make it easy for someone reading your profile to find you in the real world. You also don't want to reveal your date of birth or information about your family.
You also need to be aware that someone can make a profile using your name and contact information without your knowledge. This individual can go on to post messages and make statements in your "name" that will be attributed to you. Make a point of typing your own name in the search box on Google on a regular basis to see how many hits you get for social networking sites. Review each one to ensure that they are pages you registered for.
If you find anything that doesn't seem legitimate, report it to the social networking site in question immediately to report it. Ask for the page to be taken down immediately and check the site to make sure that administrators have complied with your request.
Identity Hijacking and Security Issues on Social Networking Sites
Most of us are familiar with the idea of identity theft. An online phenomenon known as identity hijacking is becoming more prevalent online. A computer hacker can choose to impersonate a reputable person in order to gain access to that individual's business contracts or acquaintances.
Individuals who experiece identity hijacking may also start receiving a large amount of spam, or discover that the people who appear on their "friends" list are receiving e-mails with inappropriate content.
Be careful of e-mails you receive from the social networking sites you have signed up with. If you receive an e-mail explaining that the site has updated its terms of service and that you need to click on a link to indicate your agreement to the new terms, don't do it. These types of pages are designed to capture your account log-in information rather than to update your information on the site. Once your user name and password has been collected, it can be used by another person or sold to spammers, who then can try to ruin your online reputation.
While networking sites are useful for bringing people together in cyberspace, you need to be aware of security issues with social networking sites if you're going to use them.