The recent news about the Canadian election candidate not knowing about Auschwitz, apart from her apparent ignorance, highlighted an issue that those of us involved in IT security keep talking about – privacy. The Canadian made some potentially offensive comments on her Facebook profile years ago, yet they remained there, visible to any snooping eyes that would bother to click through her Facebook wall history and came back to haunt her when running for office now.
In 2009 UK saw a scandal involving the chief of MI6 secret service having his cover blown, as his wife revealed details of their highly-guarded and secretive lives on her Facebook profile.
Why do we keep seeing such things? ESET Ireland did a survey in January of this year, asking the Irish if they’ve ever uploaded anything that could embarrass them if made public and a stunning seven out of ten under 25-year-olds said YES!
People do not seem to realise that anything they upload or post on social media will likely stay there and will likely be visible to unauthorised eyes too, unless they’ve made their privacy settings really tight. What seems like a fun party picture or joking comment to be shared with your mates today, could turn out a serious obstacle when applying for a job or running for an office tomorrow.
A whole additional aspect of this topic is privacy of children online. We wrote about this extensively on our blog, but it’s worth pointing out that in 82% of online sex crimes against minors, the offender used the victim’s social networking site to gain information about the victim’s likes and dislikes and 65% of online sex offenders used the victim’s social networking site to gain home and school information about the victim.
So what can be done about this?
First, know what to post or publish yourself and teach your children the same. If you can think of any situation in which posting something could cause embarrassment or danger at any time in the future, refrain from posting it. You know the “if you don’t want your granny to see it…” rule.
And second, make your privacy settings on all your social media very strict and limited, so that only your close friends can see your posts by default and review the target audience for anything else you publish. There are several good instructional videos available by ESET on these topics, like Make your social media accounts safer and How to make your social media accounts (almost) unhackable, as well as How to clean up your online profile for a job interview.
by Urban Schrott, ESET Ireland