Category Archives: Privacy

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Private Information and Portable Devices

Category:Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,mobile device,Privacy,Risk,Uncategorized Tags : 
The entrance of the School of Medicine and Den...
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Today, I had the privilege of being interviewed by our local YNN cable news about the challenges presented by placing private information on portable devices. A surgeon at the University of Rochester Medical Center had lost a flash drive containing the medical details of around 800 of his patients. The reporter, Anne Lithiluxa, asked me how loss of data could be prevented.

Generally, if you’re going to place private information on a portable device, either the device or the information needs to be encrypted The likelihood of exposure of private information through the loss of portable devices has increased tremendously lately due to the proliferation of smartphones and their use in accessing corporate email accounts. Good information security practice is always a combination of safe handling practices and technical protections.

However, the bottom line is that people are always the weakest link. Technical protections can always be defeated by poor practices.

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On the Eve of the Latest Facebook Privacy Fix

Category:Facebook,Information Security,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,Privacy,Risk,Social Networking Tags : 

Facebook is releasing its latest privacy fix on Wednesday, May 26. I don’t have high expectations for the new controls as Facebook has not shown any ability to make the controls user friendly, or really understand what their users want for privacy.

A much bigger issue is that we seem to have abrogated OUR responsibility to protect our private information.

Fundamentally, information security is about managing risk. ANY involvement in social networking increases the risk of something negative happening–whether it’s loss of privacy, cyberstalking, identity theft, embarrassment, etc. It’s up to us to manage the risk. We should not expect the same amount of privacy protection from a free service that we would get from a credit card company, hospital, etc.

Although Facebook, Google, LinkedIn are all provided “free” to us, that freedom comes with a price–reduced privacy and some tracking of our web habits.

It’s up to us what we choose to share on social networking sites. We agree to EULAs (end user license agreements) that we click through to get to the “good stuff.” We blithely provide requested personal details and install apps that ask for even more and that tell us up front that they may share our information. Do you have to publish your date of birth? Hometown? 20 favorite things? (I’m just waiting for the next Facebook posting asking us, “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” and urging us to send the posting to all of our friends!)

Yes, Facebook, Google, and the other social networking applications have a responsibility to protect our information. However, WE have the responsibility to share ONLY the information we choose.


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Safe(r) Use of Social Media: Facebook, Blogging, and Online Privacy

Category:Facebook,Infosec Communicator,Internet Safety,Privacy,Social Networking,Uncategorized

Concerns over Facebook privacy settings have increased steadily, with more and more mainstream media running stories about the issues. Although it is possible to more or less “lockdown” your privacy settings, Facebook makes frequent changes that may require you to review these settings on a regular basis. CNET recently discussed the controversy and suggested two tools to help determine and lockdown your current privacy settings. These tools include SaveFace (a browser helper tool) and a privacy scanning tool from ReclaimPrivacy.org.

I thought it would be useful to share some “safe practices” we created to help Rochester Institute of Technology students practice safer(r) social networking. (It’s never going to be completely Safe.)

Ben

Protecting Your Information: Safe Practices

Keeping your information out of the wrong hands can be fairly easy if you adopt a cautious attitude. Here are some tips to make sure your private information stays private.

Don’t Post Personal Information Online!
It’s the easiest way to keep your information private. Don’t post your full birth date, your address, phone numbers, etc. Don’t hesitate to ask friends to remove embarrassing or sensitive information about you from their posts either.

Use Built-In Privacy Settings
Most social networking sites offer various ways in which you can restrict public access to your profile, such only allowing your “friends” to view your profile. Of course, this only works if you only allow a few people to see your postings-if you have 10,000 “friends” your privacy won’t be very well protected. Your best bet is to disable all the extra options, and re-enable only the ones you know you’ll use. These best practices can be applied to any social networking or blogging website.

Be Wary of Others
Research by Sophos (2007) found that 41% of Facebook users were willing to befriend a plastic green frog named Freddi Staur (an anagram of ID Fraudster), subsequently revealing their personal information. Most sites do not have a rigorous process to verify identity of members so always be cautious when dealing with unfamiliar people online.

Search for Yourself
Find out what information other people have easy access to. Put your name into Google (make sure to use quotes around your name). Try searching for your nicknames, phone numbers, and addresses as well-you might be surprised at what you find. If you don’t want your content publicly searchable, many blogging sites have instructions on how to exclude your posts from appearing in search engine results using something called a “robots text file.”

What Happens on the Web, Stays on the Web

Before posting anything online, remember the maxim “what happens on the web, stays on the web.” Information on the Internet is public and available for anyone to see, and security is never perfect. With browser caching and server backups, there is a good chance that what you post will circulate on the web for years to come. So be safe and think twice about anything you post online.


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