Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Do Social Media, But Safely

Everybody is on the bandwagon about social media. As usual, I'm skeptical.

Yes, you need to have a Facebook page for your business or brand. And a LinkedIn page for your career, and Twitter for exposure and fun.

But social media is also the latest Trojan horse for malware, viruses and scammers, who hide their malicious packages in fake social media invites and weird "look at this YouTube video" emails.

Here are some best practices from Don DeBolt, director of Threat Research (what a title!) at Total Defense:

1. Share wisely
Most users, especially younger ones, don’t put much thought into the repercussions of sharing too much information, even though they should. Last year, a woman posted on Facebook that she was leaving town for a week. While out, her house was burglarized by a Facebook ‘friend’. Now that’s a real hack!

2. Don’t forget to log out
Most online users opt-in to automatically log-in to at least one Web site. Many are logged in to e-mail, Facebook and Twitter accounts all the time, at the same time, in multiple locations. It’s easy for someone to get a hold of your personal information in any one of these online locations at any time, if you simply forget to log-out.

3. Don’t click on funky links
If social networking had a constitution, this would be the first amendment. It’s clear as glass that it’s a bad idea to click on a link without prior information, that doesn’t appear to be appropriate based on the URL, that previews questionable content, etc., but a recent report found that 73% of users are still clicking on malicious links in news feeds.

4. Update your AV, ASAP
This is no sales pitch. It’s pretty simple. The only way to stay as protected as possible is to update your AV software. With new bugs hitting the Web by the minute, it’s important that you have the latest technology to protect yourself from possible hacks.

I have seen some funny-slash-embarrassing repercussions for people who forget about tip number two, above. Have you?


  1. I never log out! Now I will.

    Another thing I never do is Facebook applications. If it's sent by a trusted friend I send a note and explain, but I block all applications that come my way.

  2. If it's your computer and no one else has access to it, I don't think it's a big deal not to log out, P.

    Where it gets dicey is if you're visiting someone, you log in on their computer and then forget to log out. I've seen some pretty funny stuff posted under someone's account - clearly not by them! ;-)

    I'm with you on FB applications. No time, no interest and I think they are magnets for spreading junk.

  3. I wonder about people who accept hundreds of friends on Facebook. I don't; I only accept the people I really know and like. Who wants to read messages from virtual strangers?

  4. I have two Facebook accounts, one personal where I only accept friends and sometimes friends-of-friends, and the other that's a professional account where people can read about my columns, what I'm writing, etc.

    I try to keep the two separate and only include personal stuff on the personal page. It can be a bit tricky!

  5. I use Facebook for business, and I think a lot of people use it that way. If I need to send a personal message there, I do just that--send a personal message.

    I do, however, like to know a little something about the people who "friend" me--most of them are anime fans, and now I'm meeting photographers and writers there. It's, um, nice.