Saturday, June 25, 2011

Internet Security: Are you reading this from a secure connection?

         I've always been a preacher when it comes to internet security. If your grandmother would disapprove of your online profiles, make them private. For many reasons: defamation of character, a possible employer looking at your keg pictures and the usual creepers. Most of us aren't public figures unless we put ourselves in the spotlight. We're not celebrities on Twitter, with millions of followers. But with one wrong click, one indiscretion we can be. Just ask  New York's U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner. First of all, is your profile public or private? It makes a world of a difference. If you're profile is public, the audience is millions through the world wide web. A private profile compensates for not allowing everyone in on your daily life. Even then Facebook and Twitter have ways around your privacy.

         James Poniewozik's Time Magazine's article covers Weiner's downfall. He posted infamous pictures of his erection or crotch to ALL his Twitter followers. Weiner was Twitter savy as a lot of celebrities SEEM to be. Twitter has a Direct Message function folks. If you're profile is public and you post a picture of your latest tattoo or apartment you have some considerations to make. Yeah, those are pretty cool things. But anyone can see them, including future employers and the next Craigslist killer. If you complain about family or relationship issues, there's always a possibility relatives or your significant other's friends can find your profile and read it. It sounds great to be witty and snarky and vent. But it's not worth the consequences.

        Facebook has a function that allows you to check-in to places. A lot of the time you get prizes for being the 100th person to check-in to an public event or restaurant. At the same time you are letting everyone know where you are at the exact time you are there. I'm not sure I'd want some of my 250 Facebook friends to know where I am by myself much less the entire internet. There's some crazy person out there who could be watching. It's not paranoia. Everything is up for grabs on the internet. If someone figures out your schedule they could rob your place when you're on vacation. (Providing they find your address on the online White Pages). Or stalk you. Especially if they know you to some extent already.

        Delete any public tweets that you want. There's the nifty cache function which can still show your boss or mother those tweets where you complain about your job or sex life. If a profile was ever public at one time it's on the internet's permanent records.

        Even if you make your Facebook profile private this does not stop friends from tagging pictures of you. Regardless if their profile is public or private. Those pictures can show up anywhere. Through networking the wrong person might see it. Those pictures of you barfing at your favorite club? It doesn't matter if your best friend's profile is private. She could be friends with people who work at that job you're applying to. And when they review your application they might remember your face before they get to the resume.

        I'm not condoning people hiding their lives or keeping it all secret. But I am advising everyone to keep their lives as private as they can. Facebook is maintained by advertisers who have hold of all your information unless you specifically comb through your privacy tab and uncheck some of those subtle boxes.

        Control your life offline unless you want your life to spin out of control online. Or don't do anything stupid period. I'm sure all of us would've been happier had Weiner not used a popular networking site to send pictures of his privates.