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For Cyber Security Month, Take Extra Care Not to Overshare

b2ap3_thumbnail_oversharing_400.jpgOctober is Cyber Security month. We want to bring attention to this very important issue affecting every person and organization connected to the Internet. When discussing cyber security, we often talk about computer viruses and malware, but these threats are only part of the cyber security equation. It’s just as important that you, your staff, and even your family, are mindful to not overshare information online that can compromise your organization’s security and personal identities.

The danger here comes from sharing personal information that a hacker, scammer, and even bullies and competitors can take advantage of. Generally speaking, the worst place for this to happen is over social media. It’s easy for people and employees to become too comfortable sharing personal details over their favorite social networks, which they would come to regret if this information were to fall into the wrong hands.

Here are some sharing best practices that you, your staff, and your kids need to be mindful of in order to prevent oversharing:

Your Staff
Whether they realize it or not, your staff represents your company in the online world as well as when they’re at work. Therefore, they need to be mindful of any information they post that can potentially make their place of employment look bad, and by de facto, cost them their job. For example, every employee is entitled to gossip about their workplace to some degree, but when workplace gossip and rumors find their way to social media for all to see, then they’ll have to face the consequences for what they post.

Another thing that your employees need to be mindful of is sharing company secrets online. You may think that your team is smart enough to avoid this blunder, but they may be surprised to learn that their social network could include someone connected to a competitor. Therefore, posting something seemingly harmless like bragging about a potential sale before the deal is inked, could lead to the loss of said sale by a competitor that’s monitoring your team’s online activity.

Your Teenagers
If you’ve got teenagers, then it’s likely that they’re active on social media, and that they’re using it in ways that you don’t quite understand. Young people aren’t so much in danger of divulging company secrets on their Facebook account, but they are susceptible to two particular dangers; cyberbullying and leaving behind an unsavory digital footprint.

When it comes to cyberbullying, you will want to teach your children to simply block people who would want to do them harm by contacting them and seeing their post. Every child needs to come to grips that “people can be cruel,” and every modern young person needs to learn how to practically apply this lesson in the online age. In addition to being involved with your kid’s online activities by monitoring what they’re up to, you’ll want to walk them through how to block, unfriend, and even report cyberbullies--as well as give them a swift kick in the butt if they are guilty of cyberbullying.

Teenagers and young adults will also want to be mindful of what they post online that can be publicly viewed. Today, employers and educational institutions are searching the social media accounts of applicants, looking for anything that may disqualify them. Therefore, if you have a career-minded young person in your life who is active on social media, be sure to monitor their digital footprint using these five tips from Net Nanny:

  1. Check their digital trail by searching for them on Google. View the results from a college or employer’s perspective and make sure it coincides with the application.
  2. Limit profile visibility to friends-only.
  3. Make sure profile photo is appropriate.
  4. Remove any past Facebook posts from public view.
  5. Take control of tagging (i.e. don’t allow friends to tag your teen because it is uncontrollable).

Yourself
There are malicious entities all over the Internet that want to get their hands on your personal identity. If they’re able to hack into one of your online accounts or sell your personal information to the black market, then you will be in for a world of hurt. You can use the same tips in the previous example to safeguard your own digital footprint, but for your own protection, you’ll want to go one step further and be mindful of other-seemingly harmless details that a hacker will really, really appreciate. Details such as:

  • Your mother’s maiden name.
  • Your high school.
  • Where you got married and where you met your spouse.
  • Your favorite hobbies and sports teams.
  • The names of your pets and children.
  • Your home address (including pictures of your home).

What do all of these nuggets of information have in common? Many of these questions are used for your online accounts in order to verify your identity, should you ever forget your password. A hacker with your username and knowledge of all of these intimate details about your life may be able to easily hack into your account.

What Kind of Exploitable Target Are You? Take This Quiz to Find Out!
Be extra wary of “fun quizzes” on Facebook that try to coerce this information from you and your friends. They usually advertise themselves with a line like, “How well do you know your friend? Answer these 10 questions!” Nice try, hackers!

By being mindful about what details are posted online, you, your staff, and your family can protect themselves from many of the threats that exist there. Want to learn more? Check out https://www.staysafeonline.org/. For more tips on how to keep your information safe, subscribe to White Mountain IT Services’s blog and reach out to us at 603-889-0800.

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