Tips for Social Networking Safety

Microsoft.com offers the following 11 Tips for Social Networking Safety:

Social networking Web sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Windows Live Spaces are services people can use to connect with others to share information like photos, videos, and personal messages.

As the popularity of these social sites grows, so do the risks of using them. Hackers, spammers, virus writers, identity thieves, and other criminals follow the traffic.

Read these tips to help protect yourself when you use social networks.

  1. Use caution when you click links that you receive in messages from your friends on your social Web site. Treat links in messages on these sites as you would links in e-mail messages. (For more information, see Approach links in e-mail with caution.)
  2. Know what you’ve posted about yourself. A common way that hackers break into financial or other accounts is by clicking the “Forgot your password?” link on the account login page. To break into your account, they search for the answers to your security questions, such as your birthday, home town, high school class, father’s middle name, on your social networking site. If the site allows, make up your own password questions, and don’t draw them from material anyone could find with a quick search.
  3. Don’t trust that a message is really from who it says it’s from. Hackers can break into accounts and send messages that look like they’re from your friends, but aren’t. If you suspect that a message is fraudulent, use an alternate method to contact your friend to find out. This includes invitations to join new social networks.
  4. To avoid giving away e-mail addresses of your friends, do not allow social networking services to scan your e-mail address book. When you join a new social network, you might receive an offer to enter your e-mail address and password to find out if your contacts are on the network. The site might use this information to send e-mail messages to everyone in your contact list or even everyone you’ve ever sent an e-mail message to with that e-mail address. Social networking sites should explain that they’re going to do this, but some do not.
  5. Type the address of your social networking site directly into your browser or use your personal bookmarks. If you click a link to your site through e-mail or another Web site, you might be entering your account name and password into a fake site where your personal information could be stolen.
  6. Be selective about who you accept as a friend on a social network. Identity thieves might create fake profiles in order to get information from you.
  7. Choose your social network carefully. Evaluate the site that you plan to use and make sure you understand the privacy policy. Find out if the site monitors content that people post. You will be providing personal information to this Web site, so use the same criteria that you would to select a site where you enter your credit card.
  8. Assume that everything you put on a social networking site is permanent. Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily print photos or text or save images and videos to a computer.
  9. Be careful about installing extras on your site. Many social networking sites allow you to download third-party applications that let you do more with your personal page. Criminals sometimes use these applications to steal your personal information. To download and use third-party applications safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the Web. For more information, see Before you download files, help protect your computer.
  10. Think twice before you use social networking sites at work. For more information, see Be careful with social networking sites, especially at work.
  11. Talk to your kids about social networking. If you’re a parent of children who use social networking sites, see How to help your kids use social Web sites more safely

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • James Anderson June 30, 2010, 1:33 pm

    One way to protect yourself in regards to fake social network pages, or to avoid certain sites that may not be what you want in a social network, is to block the category in your content filter and set exceptions to those networks you want to allow use of by yourself or others in your home.

    Blue Coat’s K9 Web Protection does just taht, blocks the category, but you can set it to allow those networks you want to use, so fake sites used for phishing, spam, and porn are otherwise blocked.

    They may not be the only one, so if you use a filter, you may want to be sure it has this type of feature and category before you install it, but I’ve found K9’s ease of use to be just what one needs. Find a new site that is not good by mistake and it’s not rated? There’s an easy-to-use submission form, and the new site is rated in as little as five minutes, or no longer than one business day from when it is submitted for rating.

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