Category Archives: Social Networks

How to Protect Your Privacy on Social Media

Guest writer Sarah Clare tackles the thorny issue of Internet privacy and offers spot-on advice  to help you keep your online information private.

imageThis week, social media was abuzz over reports that Instagram’s new terms of service allowed the photo-sharing site to hock its users personal photos for advertisements and other promotions. The story prompted outcry about the privacy that members can expect (or not expect) on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, which purchased Instagram and which has a spotty history when it comes to its users’ privacy.

Understanding your rights and how you can protect your privacy on social media is important. The things you do online leave a virtual footprint that can be traced back to you for years to come. If you really want to protect your privacy on social media, here are a few things you can do:

Use a Dummy E-mail

One of the easiest ways that other users can find you on social media is by searching for your e-mail. You can make it harder, if not impossible, for people to find you by using a dummy e-mail. That way, only your close friends or family who you give the e-mail to can find your profile. Be sure to use an e-mail that does not include your name and that you only use for this purpose.

Use a Fake Name

Of course, even if you’re using a dummy e-mail, if you’re using your real name, anyone can find you. Make it harder for others to connect your profile to you by using a fake name. An easy way to do it is to simply drop your last name, using your first and middle name instead. Or you can use a nickname instead of your first name. Or you can make up a new name entirely.

Again, be sure you keep this name private and only give it to close friends and family who you want to know about your profile. Don’t use the name for any other purposes.

Set Privacy Options

Every social network has options for allowing you to control what you share with your network and with the public. You can control your privacy settings for your whole profile and for individual posts. Take the time to investigate your options and to set what you can to private. In many cases, you can lock down all your information so that it is visible only to your contacts (or even only to yourself).

Keep Business and Personal Separate

Most of us want to maintain some privacy online to protect our professional identities. You can help do this by using one profile for your private connections and another profile for your business connections. Of course, you would use your real name for your business profile and would share little to no personal information on it. You can then share personal information on your personal profile kept private through the previous steps.

Control What You Share

Of course, the easiest way to keep your information private online is not to share it. No matter what you do to protect your information, there will be some way for businesses or other people to see it. Keep your information private by keeping it offline, especially personal photos, information about your children, or thoughts about your political or religious beliefs.

Online privacy is a serious issue, and one which requires a greater level of personal responsibility as the options for connecting online continue to expand. These tips can help you to keep your personal information private while you connect with friends and business contacts online.

Sarah Clare is a writer and oversees the site projectmanagementsoftware.com, where she has recently been researching bug tracking software. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys cooking and scrapbooking.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Internet Safety, Online Privacy, Social Networks

Bridging the Gap: Effectively Connecting With Consumers Online

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and email make keeping customers, clients and loyal subscribers informed about news at your organization easier than ever before. But despite the variety of media and technology platforms, most organizations and businesses struggle to maximize these resources.

Building an online following is about more than posting pictures, or sending daily updates. Like every aspect of business development, effective social networking requires careful attention and a focused, well-articulated theme or message.

Streamline Your Email Newsletters

It’s tempting to inundate your audience with daily emails about everything from promotional sales to product changes. This is a mistake. Frequently sent emails become associated with spam. Email marketing companies typically have rules in place to prevent their clients from inadvertently spamming their clients – it helps to think of your own email inbox and how quickly it clogs with spam.

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· Focus your newsletter, or email, to once or twice a month.

· Organize the information. For example, “What’s New,” “Sales and Promotions” and “Industry Updates” can all be categories.

· Give readers, or customers, an incentive to read through the email by including a coupon at the end.

Facebook

Facebook enjoys around 900 million monthly active users. That’s a goldmine for the media-savvy marketer. Facebook is a good way to automatically insert yourself onto the newsfeed of your followers without sending emails or promotional brochures, but that doesn’t mean you should post daily updates without a purpose.

· Announce new product arrivals alongside pictures of your staff or satisfied customers.

· Facebook is about exchange and engagement, so invite your followers to engage by holding contests for new product names or asking questions related to your business. For example, if your business sells green cleaning products, post a Facebook message asking others which of your products they like the most. This will facilitate an online discussion among your audience and draw attention to your business Facebook page.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a great way to expand on your organization, while offering valuable information to your online audience. Let’s say your company sells fly fishing equipment. Pinterest gives you the perfect opportunity to educate your customers in an interest-related area while showcasing your merchandise visually.

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· Be subtle, make the focal point about the hobby, but mention your products as they relate to specifics. For example, “Using a broader piece, like the Catchfly22, allows you to cover more surface area on the water.”

· Create Pinterest group boards for each facet of your business. For example, if you own an organic pet supply store, feature separate Pinterest boards on food & nutrition, grooming and toys. This will allow you to reach a broader consumer audience of pinners.

Twitter

Twitter is one of the trickier social media outlets to use for business because your content is limited to a few hundred characters per post. The bottom line is: keep your tweets regular and meaningful.

· Twitter is ideal for announcements. For example, “Just in time for summer…Newest colors of Balliboo shorts!” – Along with the announcement, tweet a picture of the new shorts spread in a colorful arch across the store counter. This keeps your audience aware of new merchandise, and excited about purchasing it for the upcoming season.

Each of these social media outlets is only as powerful as your overarching communication strategy. Strategize about when to post, email and tweet so that you can coordinate the messages and media content.

For example, if you want to promote a new brand of athletic clothing that just arrived, make sure to reiterate that news through every social media outlet without making every post identical.

You can tweet a picture of the new clothing in colorful piles and post a picture on your Pinterest board of an employee wearing a new shirt, along with a description of a few local biking routes.

Reinforcing your synchronized message through multiple social media outlets makes it more powerful, and more likely to be absorbed by your audience.

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

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Filed under Business Applications, Business Development, Guest Writers, Social Networks

An IT Professional’s Internet Privacy Tips – Simple And Effective

https://i0.wp.com/it.sheridanc.on.ca/images/internetprivacy.jpgInternet privacy tips are often complex and mind numbing and, generally promote an overblown reliance on technology. In this guest article, IT professional Robert Coulter, cuts through the knarly knot of the usual wooden security tips with a range of suggestions designed to keep hackers and other nefarious types away from your important private data while online.

As revealed in Wired Magazine, every piece of electronic communication is able to be intercepted by someone, somewhere. Even Internet giants like LinkedIn can be compromised, as an estimated 6.5 million password were hacked earlier this month. With that in mind, the only real way to guarantee complete online security is to never go online at all. Since this is neither practical nor desirable, by most people, there are still steps you can take to protect your online security and protect your personal information while enjoying the benefits of the Web.

Don’t overshare.

This first tip is simply common sense. Don’t share more than is necessary on the Web, especially on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. While it can be fun, consider the risks from sharing every last detail of your life with the world, such as birth date, where you go (check-ins), pictures of your children, details of your job and relationships.

All of these details make social engineering hacks easy to perform and open you up to identity theft. Do your bank accounts have common security questions like “Mother’s Maiden Name?” or “City of Birth?” protecting your passwords in the event you need to reset them? Well, chances are this information is easily found by snooping around your social media profiles, making it an easy matter to reset passwords on sensitive accounts.

If you do insist on sharing, at least tighten up your Facebook privacy settings and keep your circle of friends small and limited to those you actually know. Also, disable the most invasive features, like check-ins and photo tagging.

Use a cloud-based antivirus rather than a signature-based one.

Cloud-based antivirus solutions, such as those offered by Webroot and Symantec, do away with large signature file downloads, which eat up bandwidth and can take up to several gigabytes of hard drive space. Instead, all of the signatures reside in “the cloud” and every file and Web request gets run against this ever-growing, real time database using the provider’s resources rather than your computer’s, speeding things up greatly and providing the most up-to-date protection.

Set stronger passwords.

ElcomSoft recently did a study that estimates just 25% of people regularly change their password. Setting a strong password, and changing it frequently, is key to protect your identity. Many experts suggest using long strings of random gibberish with special characters for greatest safety, but these can become nearly impossible to remember, leading to the insecure solution of storing them in an unprotected spreadsheet or on little bits of paper which can get lost.

One way to get a strong password that is easy to remember is to use a four word phrase, such as “kayaking beats drudge work” and substituting the spaces for a special character, such as “#” or “_.” The length and randomness will take a hacker more time than it is worth to figure out, while also being easy to commit to your own memory.

Use a Mailinator account on potential spam sites.

Mailinator is a great tool for signing up for web offers without actually providing your real email address. Mailinator works by allowing you to invent a disposable email address, which you can check without a password and which keeps messages for only 24 hours before being automatically erased. This is great when signing up for a site which seems to offer something enticing, but which might be spammy or even a hacker site, as your real email address is never revealed.

Deactivate old or unnecessary accounts.

Old accounts might leave your information scattered across the Internet for anyone to mine, especially on sites past their prime and maintained very irregularly by their administrators, as they tend to have lax security measures. The answer is to delete these old accounts. Even Facebook now has a “delete” feature, rather than just the “deactivate” one, so take advantage of this to clean up your online traces and reduce the temptation for hackers to learn more about you in an unwholesome way.

In conclusion, online threats are constantly evolving, and the best guardian of personal data is truly the individual user himself. Be smart and be skeptical when online it just might save you thousands of dollars and countless hours of heartache.

Guest author Bio: Robert Coulter works in the security industry at authentify.com which offers two-factor verification solutions for companies who need increased security protection for their clients.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Guest Writers, Internet Safety, Privacy, Social Networks

Valentine’s “Love” In Your Inbox – Could Be Malware On Your Computer.

imageValentine’s Day will be on us before we know it – so, it’s not too early to get ready for the deluge of  “I love you”, “Wish you were mine”………………., and of course, the customary – “Happy Valentine’s Day” emails.

Hopefully, you will have a Happy Valentine’s Day – but, that happy feeling could be ruined, if you fall victim to the explosion of “spam and scam” that’s aimed at lovers, this time of year –  every year. Much of it designed to take a swing at unsuspecting users machines – leading to a malware infection.

In previous years, starting  just about this time, we saw abnormally high rates of this type of spam and, since cyber crooks are opportunity driven; we’ll see much more of this type of cybercriminal activity this year, I expect.

Perhaps you’re a very cool person who’s significant other is always sending you neat little packages in your email. MP3 files, screensavers, cartoons, YouTube videos, and the like. Could be – you get them so often, that you just automatically click on the email attachment without even thinking. If, you are this type of person, here’s a word of advice – start thinking.

The hook, as it always is in this type of socially engineered email scam, is crafted around exploiting emotions. We’re all pretty curious creatures and, let’s face it, who doesn’t like surprises. I think it’s safe to say, we all find it difficult, if not impossible, to not peek at love notes received via email.

The unfortunate truth is, these spam emails often contain links that deliver advertisements, or worse – redirect the victim to an unsafe site from which malware can be installed on the victim’s computer.

Here’s a tip – If you see something along the lines of – This email contains graphics, so if you don’t see them, view it in your browser – consider very carefully – before you click on the link.

A couple of years ago, a friend, who is an astute and aware computer user, fell for one of these carefully crafted teasing emails. On opening the email, he was taken to a site which had pictures of hearts and puppies, and was then asked to choose which one was for him. You’ll notice that “choosing” involved opening an executable filea cardinal sin.

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Fortunately, he got his geek on in time – common sense prevailed, and he backed out of this site. If he had clicked on this executable file, he would have begun the process of infecting his machine with a Trojan. A Trojan which, in this case, connected to a remote command and control site – (effectively, turning over control of his computer to a cybercriminal). Nasty – I think you’ll agree.

Experienced users are on guard year round for these, and other types of scam/spam email.

You know what to do; right?

Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.

Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin.

Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them on the browser’s address bar.

If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web site designed to download malware onto your computer.

Cyber crooks have moved on from using just emails, as a malware delivery vehicle. So, be on the lookout for fraudulent Valentine’s Day greetings in:

Instant Messenger applications.

Twitter.

Facebook.

Chat forums, and so on.

This just in @ 11:56

Uzbekistan Government Cancels Valentine’s Day

That settles it – I’m not giving any Uzbek women my love in protest. Sorry ladies.   🙂

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Filed under bots, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Email, Malware Alert, Social Networks, spam

I’m Infected With Technology Fatigue

imageThe Internet is a demanding mistress. Once you hookup – you’re hooked. At the moment I’m on a short vacation and yet, I find I have a craving to stay connected.

Now, that’s either a sad commentary on my lifestyle, or the tentacles of “always on” communication have finally managed to wrap themselves around my DNA. Maybe this is what evolution is really all about   Smile Frankly though, I’m beginning to find the whole thing neuron numbing.

It’s not just the Net that has wormed its way into my subconscious (I wonder what Freud would say about that), it’s the entire technology thing – the world of connected devices, and the ever increasing perceptual need for increased speed.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece – which I didn’t post – in which I kicked around the following personal points.


image_thumb2_thumb_thumbI’m an old computer dog now, and I must admit, that being so makes it just a little harder to learn new tricks. On the other hand, being an old dog does have a positive side – I’m not a techno lemming.

You won’t find me jumping off the cliff with the masses on their way to the Apple (Techno Lemmings “R” Us) Store, for the latest and greatest iPad, or iPhone, or stripping out a dual core processor for a tiny improvement (maybe) to be gained by installation a quad core, or better, processor.

Even Facebook has little appeal – although, I will admit, I do have a Facebook account. Not sure why really – I just don’t see the benefit; at least not yet. Hmmm, maybe I’m more hype driven than I feel comfortably admitting.


Fast forward to today  – I now use Facebook more than ever, (as well as Google+), I jumped off the techno lemming cliff and bought an iPad (to mate with my smart phone) and, went so far as to install a quad core processor – and realized no perceptible gain. Although, I’m sure a benchmarking application will show an increase in performance – if I could only learn to count in microseconds I’m convinced I’d see it too.

This past week, I paid a visit to my Bank (for the first time in years), and not surprisingly, few of the staff recognized me as a customer. Hardly unusual given that I conduct all my financial affairs on the Net. Still, I found it troubling since in years gone by, dropping into the Bank was not unlike stopping by the coffee shop – a bit of conversation – a chance to catch up on the local gossip.

I’m not suggesting that I’ll give up on Internet banking anytime soon but, my banking visit drove home to me that there is a personal hidden price to all this new fangled technology – at my Bank, for example, I’ve become a nameless, faceless, non-entity. Given the types of transactions I complete on the Net, I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg. In all likelihood, I’ve been reduced to an IP address.

Some years back, I cut my Internet connection for eighteen months or so (2000 – 2001), and, I was more than a little surprised to find that I didn’t miss it – not at all. Interestingly, by the time I reconnected, the basics had not changed. Sure, the hype machine was in its usual overdrive mode in its attempt to convince me that I had missed a revolution – and admittedly, I had missed some evolution – but, hardly a revolution.

I’m now an even older computer dog and, despite my best efforts, I have become a techno lemming. I’m convinced that I’m addicted to the adrenalin rush attached to the self driven need to stay on the leading edge of technology. Sad really.

Marshal McLuhan was right – “The medium is the message”. On balance, I think that connective technologies have been hijacked, more often than not, so that the technologies have become the message rather than content. And so, the need by technologists to disparage “soon to be old technology” which must be replaced by new and more exciting advances. Or so goes the ever active hype machine.

I’m taking myself out of that game. While it’s hardly practical for me to cut the Internet cord again – it is time for me to climb another mountain I think – time to reassess the benefits of my wired world – time to reconnect more closely with the “real” world.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Internet Addiction, Opinion, Point of View, Social Networks

Join The Crowd – Snoop On Your Kids Internet Privacy – 55% Of Brits Do!

imageDo you monitor your children’s online activity? Is an invasion of your child’s privacy on such a scale, necessary? Do you tell yourself that you’re just being prudent?

We know from survey after survey, that teenagers have misplaced confidence in their ability to stay safe online. While the majority of teenagers say they are confident they can remain safe online, survey results continue to show a wide gap exists between the perception, and the reality.

Even so – is that state of affairs cause for alarm? Or, have parents been manipulated into a state of “perverts run amok” fear and anxiety, by a mainstream media which is expert at molding public perception – à la Rupert Murdoch and his now defunct News of the World? The fear mongering practiced by parental control security providers, I’ll leave for another time.

Given the often accepted (but, statistically false) notion that children/teenagers are in mortal danger in a technological age with its easy access to social networking, mobile communication (and all that entails), lost in the translation, it seems to me, are the practical benefits for adolescents that technology provides.

It would be difficult to argue to the contrary, that today’s young people face a tough, harsh “World”, the World of the Internet and attached devices –  in which the technology itself, the content it delivers and its instant contact capabilities – come with associated risks.

Undoubtedly, there are age specific potential risks but, snooping on your child’s or your adolescent’s online activity, is hardly what could be called – a positive influence. Certainly not when communication – the sharing of knowledge and safety strategies – coupled with effective guidance, is much more likely to lead to the results that all parents are seeking.

The reality is – staying safe in today’s techno centric world demands knowledge, and acquiring that knowledge requires that a major effort be made to obtain it. If you, as a parent, see the need to positively influence your young person’s technology habits then, you must make the effort to acquire the appropriate knowledge.

On the other hand, you can always take the easy way out and – just snoop. If you so choose, rest assured that you’ll have lots of company.

According to a recently released study commissioned by security application provider BullGuard, made up of 2000 interviews of internet users across the UK – 55% of parents “keep an eye” on a son or daughter by checking their social networking profile, with a further 5% saying “they would if they knew how”.

This snooping doesn’t stop there however – 76% of respondents say they check Internet history to ensure children aren’t visiting unsuitable websites –  21% check instant messaging history, and 23% snoop through email accounts.

Additional information on the survey is available here.

Young people value their privacy – just as we all do. I suspect that those parents who routinely violate this privacy compact, as the 55% of respondents to this survey apparently do, may well have additional issues (other than a lack of appropriate parenting skills), with which they need to deal. I suspect that their mental balance sheet is more than a little skewed.

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Filed under Internet Safety for Teenagers, Online Safety, Point of View, social networking, Social Networks, Windows Tips and Tools

The Never Ending Debate: Does Social Belong in Business?

Guest writer Grace Kang takes a look at social media, and lays out a logical and persuasive case for employing social media tools as a business builder. 

imageThe term “social” may sound like it belongs anywhere but the office, but the truth is, the success of the world’s best businesses can be traced to their leadership’s reliance upon increasing their workers’ networking, relationships and and transparency.

Instead of having individual employees focused on completing tasks alone, by encouraging employees to expand their own networks formally and informally, businesses are able to leverage their employees’ communications for better growth. Business collaboration software and online tools can help make the process easier.

Why does social belong in business?

  • People everywhere are choosing to communicate through social media. In a survey by Central Desktop, the participants indicated that 49% were using document collaboration tools, 19% said internal social networking tools, 18% were using wikis, 9% using discussion threads, and 5% using activity feeds.
  • Social media is a great place to build long term relationships
  • It makes it easy to engage prospects and customers with games, contests and more. In the survey, 22% said they used social tools to connect with customers, and 18% to win customers.
  • Social software for business is getting better. To see the evolution of social collaboration tools, check out “The State of Social Collaboration”, a neat infographic that illustrates how social tools have changed since they were first introduced in the 1970’s.
  • Its only going to get bigger, and you need to be there.

Even if a business is physically spread out across the country or even the globe, using social networking within the organization can have a dramatic positive impact on the company’s current and future returns. Collaboration software and online project management meld together through Central Desktop, which is a social software for business that provides employees who are located at separate locations a cohesive means of sharing ideas, planning projects and ultimately adding value to their shared business.

As transparency increases between groups located on different continents and between business units and functional centers, efficiency also will increase. Concerns that would normally have to be fed up and down their respective feeding chains are shared immediately for a fast response from the appropriate personnel.

Avoiding triangulation, wherein a the party in need of assistance goes to a third party instead of the party who can actually assist him or her, reduces staff time devoted to a project while empowering employees to take ownership of their work. As a result, employees take more pride in their work, act more efficiently and are more likely to produce a high quality product.

Social Collaboration Promote Employee Ownership and Morale

Employee ownership of work also makes it easier to identify supply chain problems early on and correct them before they snowball into larger concerns. The increased communication between departments bleeds into increased communication within departments. Greater clarity of duties, concerns, issues and other tasks at all levels reduces the chances that employees will spend their time working on the wrong types of projects, while increasing employee morale.

Allowing employees to mingle at a virtual water cooler means fast tracking discussions of interdepartmental issues, so that resolutions can be found in a timely manner.

A business group located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, can benefit greatly from learning about the solution that a group located in New York City or Hong Kong implemented, rather than working to try to figure out a solution to the problem themselves, which would take more time that they may not have to spend on the problem. Business collaboration software and tools like Central Desktop are leading the way.

Bio:

Grace Kang is a writer for Central Desktop, the leading social collaboration software solution for mid to large sized businesses.

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Filed under Collaboration, Communication, Enterprise Applications, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Networking, Productivity Software, Social Networks, Software, Windows Tips and Tools