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Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 56

Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 56

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 198

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 198
Staying Safe on Social Networking Sites PDF Print E-mail

Here is an interesting article I found from the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT).  It's an article written by a US Government department, so it's very dry...but it has lots of useful information.  Give it a read and make sure that you protect yourself online.

What are social networking sites?

Social networking sites, sometimes referred to as "friend-of-a-friend" sites, build upon the concept of traditional social networks where you are connected to new people through people you already know. The purpose of some networking sites may be purely social, allowing users to establish friendships or romantic relationships, while others may focus on establishing business connections.

Although the features of social networking sites differ, they all allow you to provide information about yourself and offer some type of communication mechanism (forums, chat rooms, email, instant messenger) that enables you to connect with other users. On some sites, you can browse for people based on certain criteria, while other sites require that you be "introduced" to new people through a connection you share. Many of the sites have communities or subgroups that may be based on a particular interest.

What security implications do these sites present?

Social networking sites rely on connections and communication, so they encourage you to provide a certain amount of personal information. When deciding how much information to reveal, people may not exercise the same amount of caution as they would when meeting someone in person because

  • the      internet provides a sense of anonymity
  • the lack      of physical interaction provides a false sense of security
  • they      tailor the information for their friends to read, forgetting that others      may see it
  • they      want to offer insights to impress potential friends or associates

While the majority of people using these sites do not pose a threat, malicious people may be drawn to them because of the accessibility and amount of personal information that's available. The more information malicious people have about you, the easier it is for them to take advantage of you. Predators may form relationships online and then convince unsuspecting individuals to meet them in person. That could lead to a dangerous situation. The personal information can also be used to conduct a social engineering attack (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for more information). Using information that you provide about your location, hobbies, interests, and friends, a malicious person could impersonate a trusted friend or convince you that they have the authority to access other personal or financial data.

Additionally, because of the popularity of these sites, attackers may use them to distribute malicious code. Sites that offer applications developed by third parties are particularly susceptible. Attackers may be able to create customized applications that appear to be innocent while infecting your computer or sharing your information without your knowledge.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Limit      the amount of personal information you post      - Do not post information that would make you vulnerable, such as your      address or information about your schedule or routine. If your connections      post information about you, make sure the combined information is not more      than you would be comfortable with strangers knowing. Also be considerate      when posting information, including photos, about your connections.
  • Remember      that the internet is a public resource - Only      post information you are comfortable with anyone seeing. This includes      information and photos in your profile and in blogs and other forums.      Also, once you post information online, you can't retract it. Even if you      remove the information from a site, saved or cached versions may still      exist on other people's machines (see Guidelines for      Publishing Information Online for more information).
  • Be wary      of strangers - The internet makes it easy      for people to misrepresent their identities and motives (see Using Instant      Messaging and Chat Rooms Safely for more information). Consider      limiting the people who are allowed to contact you on these sites. If you      interact with people you do not know, be cautious about the amount of      information you reveal or agreeing to meet them in person.
  • Be      skeptical - Don't believe everything you      read online. People may post false or misleading information about various      topics, including their own identities. This is not necessarily done with      malicious intent; it could be unintentional, an exaggeration, or a joke.      Take appropriate precautions, though, and try to verify the authenticity      of any information before taking any action.
  • Evaluate      your settings - Take advantage of a site's      privacy settings. The default settings for some sites may allow anyone to      see your profile, but you can customize your settings to restrict access      to only certain people. There is still a risk that private information      could be exposed despite these restrictions, so don't post anything that      you wouldn't want the public to see. Sites may change their options      periodically, so review your security and privacy settings regularly to      make sure that your choices are still appropriate.
  • Be wary      of third-party applications - Third-party applications may      provide entertainment or functionality, but use caution when deciding      which applications to enable. Avoid applications that seem suspicious, and      modify your settings to limit the amount information the applications can      access.
  • Use      strong passwords - Protect your account with      passwords that cannot easily be guessed (see Choosing and      Protecting Passwords for more information). If your password is      compromised, someone else may be able to access your account and pretend      to be you.
  • Check      privacy policies - Some sites may share      information such as email addresses or user preferences with other      companies. This may lead to an increase in spam (see Reducing Spam for      more information). Also, try to locate the policy for handling referrals      to make sure that you do not unintentionally sign your friends up for      spam. Some sites will continue to send email messages to anyone you refer      until they join.
  • Keep      software, particularly your web browser, up to date      - Install software updates so that attackers cannot take advantage of      known problems or vulnerabilities (see Understanding Patches      for more information). Many operating systems offer automatic updates. If      this option is available, you should enable it.
  • Use and      maintain anti-virus software - Anti-virus software helps      protect your computer against known viruses, so you may be able to detect      and remove the virus before it can do any damage (see Understanding      Anti-Virus Software for more information). Because attackers are      continually writing new viruses, it is important to keep your definitions      up to date.

Children are especially susceptible to the threats that social networking sites present. Although many of these sites have age restrictions, children may misrepresent their ages so that they can join. By teaching children about internet safety, being aware of their online habits, and guiding them to appropriate sites, parents can make sure that the children become safe and responsible users (see Keeping Children Safe Online for more information).


Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 117

Warning: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 117

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 245

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 245

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 249

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 249

Warning: strftime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 250

Warning: strftime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/mauskar/public_html/libraries/joomla/utilities/date.php on line 250
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 15:55
 

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