Tag Archive for Facebook

Things You Should Never Share on Facebook

Facebook has millions of Americans sharing their photos, favorite songs and details about their class reunions, but there are a handful of personal details that you should never share or post if you don’t want criminals — cyber or otherwise — to rob you blind.

Furthermore, many an ill-advised Facebook post can get your insurance cancelled or cause you to pay dramatically more for it: home, auto, fire, flood, life or other forms of insurance included. Almost everybody knows that drunken party photos can cost you a job; and now experts say debt collectors are switching from phone books to trolling social networking sites to find deadbeats.

Facebook No NosYou can certainly enjoy networking and sharing photos, but you should know that sharing some information puts you at risk. What should you never say on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site? Read on…

Your birth date and place. Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and the place you were born too, then you’ve just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life. A study by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — sometimes all — the numbers in your Social Security number.

Home BurglaryVacation plans. There’s no better way to say “Rob me, please” than posting your vacation countdown or your moment of departure or arrival at the airport. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like, but don’t invite criminals to your home by telling them “I’m not home!”

Home address. Great follow-up to the last item, eh? So many people do this though. A recent study by the Ponemon Institute found that social media users were at greater risk of physical and/or identity theft because of the information they shared. In fact, some 40% listed their home address; 65% didn’t even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings; and 60% said they weren’t confident that their “friends” were really the people they know, or even that they fully trusted them either way.

Katie Furlong 2009 FacebookConfessionals. You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational drug user, but Facebook is not the place to let it all out. Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire and who to fire.

Need proof? Just last month alone there were two such cases. In the first case a prison guard at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in Ohio was fired after posting a threatening comment about the state governor; and in Winfield, West Virginia the mayor fired the local police chief after his son posted a disparaging comment about a teenager who had been struck by a train. Last year a NYC teacher was fired after posting a comment that she thought some of her school kids should drown. (A Manhattan judge recently ruled she should be given her job back).

A 2009 Proofpoint study showed that 8% of companies with over 1,000 employes had fired someone for “misuse” of social media.

Password clues. If you’ve got online accounts, you’ve probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your Mom’s maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song.

Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? Are you playing games where you and your friends “quiz” each other on the personal details of your lives? You’re giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.

Maybe it’s time to review your social media profiles?

Amber Alert, now on Facebook

Amber Alert

Amber Alert, the missing children notification service, has joined Facebook.

It’s nice to see that Facebook is becoming truly useful on the community level.

Yesterday, Facebook announced it is teaming up with local authorities nationwide to help find missing children. People can now find Amber Alerts on the popular social networking site. Now, with only a click of the mouse, or via an update on your phone, you can help find a missing child.

Amber Alert

Amber Alert

Facebook users in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands can now sign up to receive the alerts. You can pick which states will send you alerts.

The Statistics. It’s reported that more than 2,000 children are reported missing every day in the United States. That’s an alarming number. Currently, many states have only been using electronic billboards, highway signs, radio, and TV to issue Amber Alerts. The addition of Facebook and SMS text alerts to your cellphone will be a tremendous help in helping reunite missing children with their families and caregivers. Hopefully, this will help more children faster than before.

False Alerts? This will be most helpful after a rash of false Amber Alerts were spread via Facebook in 2010. Every month from April through September of 2010, at least one false Amber Alert was circulated on Facebook.

The Real Amber Alerts. To get Amber Alerts from Facebook visit http://www.facebook.com/AMBERalert. For more about Amber Alerts visit http://www.amberalert.com.

Avoid Trickery on Facebook and Twitter (pt. 1)

The popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has created a malicious hacker wonderland. A fantastic place for them to exploit the users of those sites. Their goals? To infect computers with malware, trojans, and viruses. There are a variety of exploitative programs out there. Some obtain personal information, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes through nefarious means, while others transform a computer into remote-controlled “zombie” machine.

Why do people fall prey to these schemes? Because they lack (1) anti-virus and (2) malware protection programs on their computers; amd they lack the skills necessary to spot and avoid the potential risks. Free service and the ease and seeming anonymity of point-and-click make increase the chances they will lower their guard.

Malicious Hackers Top Tricks

Hijacking Twitter’s Trending Topics. This technique has become popular in the last three months. Basically, hackers create new Twitter accounts and then post messages related to whatever the trending or “hot” topic of the day may be.  As a result, the post gets included in Twitter search results. The hackers message includes a link or web address that they hope unsuspecting users will click and explore. The link, unfortunately, leads the user to an infected website.

Hijacking Legitimate Accounts. This works on Facebook, Twitter, and any communications website such as Yahoo! mail, Hotmail, and Gmail, to name a few. Here the hacker breaks into legitimate accounts. Once in, they start sending out messages on that account. The messages, as above, include links to malicious and/or fraudulent websites. Since the tweets, posts, or emails come from a legitimate and trusted account the established base of friends and followers is more likely to respond. On Twitter, this makes it more likely that others will spread the seemingly legitimate message from a known and trusted source. This increases the range or “reach” of the threat.

ReputationDefender.comDangerous Email. Another method of encouraging social networking users to click malicious links is the timeworn technique of sending “spoofed” email. In this instance, the hackers create messages that appear to come from a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, and even MySpace. The messages asks that you to “update your account” or open an attachment.

Tomorrow: 8 Safety Tips for Social Networking

Avoid Trickery on Facebook and Twitter (pt. 2)

Last week I discussed some of the recent tricks being exploited by hackers on Facebook and Twitter. These tricks can be harmful to your:

  • personal identity
  • your personal finance
  • and your online reputation

These risks come from: 

  • malicious links in tweets and posts
  • account hi-jacking
  • and email spoofing

How To Stay Safe

To better avoid the risks and dangers of social media sites you should employ these best practices as much as possible. You may already be following many of these, but it is best to review them and keep them fresh. Iften we follow the safest road, and when no dangers seem apparent, we can get lulled into a false sense of security and let down our guard. Or in this case, our computer guards.

  1. Don’t assume a link sent or posted by a friend is “safe”: Your friend may have lowered their defenses, or not exercised caution with their online activity. As noted earlier, your friend’s account could have been infected, hacked, or hi-jacked. You may want to contact your friend first and check with them if the link is genuine. Many times I have found that they received the link from someone else, and just forwarded it assuming it was safe. They didn’t know that the friend be fore them hadn’t investigated the link either.
  2. Don’t assume a message from a friend is “safe”: Does the message sound like something your friend would actually say? Have they spoke on the subject before? Perhaps their accound has been hi-jacked. One of my own email accounts got hijacked this past summer, and the hacker sent messages from my account saying I was in need of money. One of my friends, believing I was in danger, sent $600 cash.  If you’re unsure, try to contact them through another channel. In my situation, many of my other friends sent me texts and made phone calls to me to check it out.
  3. Don’t assume Twitter links are safe just because Twitter scans for malware: In August 2010, Twitter partnered with Google to use Google’s Safe Browsing API. This technology checks URLs or web links against Google’s blacklisted sites. This prevents spammers from posting malicious URLs to Twitter, but it does NOT prevent them from using shortened address services such as bit.ly or tinyurl.com.  Hence….
  4. Don’t Assume Bit.ly and TinyURL Links are Safe: These legitmate address shortening service make it easy to convert long web addresses into short addresses. Bit.ly, in particular, is Twitter’s address or URL shortening service partner. Bit.ly, too, uses Google’s Safe Browsing API and two other blacklists to identify malicious links. BUT although the service doesn’t prevent users from posting these links, it will warn you when you click that the site being linked to is infected. BUT they’ve been known to miss a few according to various anti-virus services such as Kaspersky. As we’re learning, nothing online is ever completely safe, but then again, is anything ever?
  5. Use an up-to-date web browser: There are dozens or more browsers to choose from. There’s Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari, AOL’s online software, Opera, Google’s Chrome, and many more. They are periodically updated and “patched” by their respective companies. Hackers will find flaws in these programs that can be exploited. That means Internet Explorer users, the most frequently attacked, should be on IE8. Firefox is number two on the hitlist, but it alerts you when an update is available (if you have the most recent version that is). The same goes for Google’s Chrome browser.
  6. Keep Windows and Mac O/S up-to-date: As always, Windows users should make sure their systems are current with the latest patches from Microsoft. Automatic updates should be turned on. Mac issues updates periodically, too, though not as often as Microsoft.
  7. Keep Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash up-to-date: Since Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Firefox have been so diligent with updates, patches, and security; hackers have set their sights on these programs. A lot of malware exploits known vulnerabilities in Adobe’s software packages. One common attack from hackers directs victims to malware-infected sites that request you update your Flash or the Adobe Reader in order to view content on the site. DON”T DO IT using their links!  Instead, go directly to Adobe’s site (www.adobe.com) on your own and download the latest version. Why not do that right now? Go ahead, I’ll wait here.
  8. Don’t assume you’re safe because you use a Mac: Didn’t I hint at this on number 5 and 6? It’s true, Mac users are less “targeted” than Windows users, but they’re not immune. The truth is there are fewer Macs out there, so they present a smaller target, so hackers are less likely to attack them. But as they grow in popularity then get targeted more and more. Popular public opinion has it that Macs are invulnerable to viruses. This isn’t true. As a matter of fact, Apple has started to include some malware protection in their latest operating system, but it only protects users from two attack forms. There are currently several hundred attacks out there that specifically target Apple computers. The true number may be larger, but since so few Mac users use anti-maleware protection software, it’s hard to tell what the actual figure is.
  9. Beware of email messages from social networks: Email addresses can be “spoofed” by hackers, so you can’t assume a message from Facebook or Twitter is really from those sites. Don’t open attachments you’re not expecting, and be wary of clicking on links that request you “update your account.” And if you do click, and you arrive at a page that asks you to log in, DON’T.  You could be delivering your personal account info into the hasnds of a hacker. Instead, always access your favorite sites directly by “typing” the URL or web address into your browser or clicking in with your Bookmarks or Favorites.

As I mentioned before. many of these practices are the same ones you should already be following from earlier risks. Hackers tend to elaborate on pre-existing schemes and attack forms, and so you should elaborate on pre-exisiting safe practices.

So always keep your computer and browser up-to-date, and don’t open attachments. PLUS don’t assume your friend has been playing it safe either.  How often do we talk with friends about updating somputers and anti-virus programs? Not often, right?

But we should because malware hackers are getting trickier, and know they are seeking to use the trusted identities of our friends on Facebook and Twitter, to lull us into a false sense of safety. So use caution when friends send or provide links. Specially if it is out of the ordinary for them. After all, the risks aren’t on Facebook and Twitter, but in the sites they link to.

Watch the connections.

Video Chat and Marketing for $50 (Special for Skylarking readers)

Cooler Master HAF 932 Full Tower Case

I am back! Can I get on a roll with my posts again?  Place your bets!

Video Chat and Video Marketing; yours for $50! with the Microsoft Lifecam Cinema 1080i HD webcam and coupon code QFH8905. YouTube, Social Media sites, and Video Chat has finally become a part of our everyday life at home and at work:Microsoft Lifecam

  • Business people and entrepreneurs use video as an online promotional tool to reach their customers on their websites or through YouTube and Facebook. Or as a conferencing tool with their partners and associates.
  • Families and friends, both near and far, use it to keep in touch while away at college, while traveling abroad, or from home to home with Skype and Facebook. (Skype and Facebook have recently teamed up. Read all about it here on Facebook.)

If you’re ready for this exciting communication medium then look no futher than the Microsoft Lifecam Cinema 1080i HD webcam.  Regularly it sells for $80, and TigerDirect sells it for $60, but use coupon code QFH8905 and the links in this article to save an extra $10 at checkout. (Offer expires October 21) Want to know more about why this is camera to get? Here you go:

  • It’s easy to setup. It has only one cable which plugs into any available USB port on your PC, Mac, laptop, or netbook.
  • It’s aluminum body is so light yet durable that you can take it anywhere.
  • Its auto-focus feature keeps you in focus — the camera adjusts to you, not you to it.
  • It’s built-in digital microphone is sensitive and advanced enough to provide crystal clear sound quality while cancelling out any interfering background noises.
  • One touch ease with the Windows Live Call Button gets you online and on your way to making a video call.
  • Bend, fold and shape the flexible base for the best angle on laptop screens, flat panels and traditional monitors.
  • Bonus: High def (HD) capability with 1080i and 720p technology for the sharpest image!
  • Bonus: Easily integrates with Windows Messenger!

Now, remember, you need to use the code QFH8905 and click the links above to get the Microsoft Lifecam for only $50.

Facebook to charge $4.99 per month in June?

Not true. Just a few weeks ago, if you’re an active Facebook user, you may have read that Facebook was going to start charging $4.99 to use the service starting at the end of June 2010. Here’s a snippet of the message that circulated last month:

Spyware Doctor Free Scan

There is a website that has over 83,000 members of people protesting the following… WE’RE AGAINST THE 4.99 A MONTH CHARGE FOR FACEBOOK FROM JUNE 30TH 2010 See website here…

[website address removed]

Thankfully, this was just one of many Facebook-related hoaxes that circulate the web. (The bigger the site, the bigger the target, the bigger the audience.) Unfortunately, the bogus message caused real problems for many people who decided to look into the web site and Facebook group it promoted.

Many who visited the web site clicked on certain elements which initiated a hijacking attempt on their computers. Further clicking resulted the downloading of malware, spyware, and “highly objectionable images” to the visiting computer.

Shortly after a counter message began circulating among Facebook users and friends alerting them to the harmful effects of the phony Facebook group and web site. (I received copies of both messages. I ignored the first, and said “Just as I thought” to the second.) The warning messages looked something like this:

WARNING: DO NOT JOIN the group We are against paying $4.99 for Facebook – IT’s A VIRUS AND HACKER! There are extremely graphic images at the website they suggest you visit. FACEBOOK has no plans on charging us. ELIMINATE THIS GROUP from your groups & run your spyware ASAP. REPOST THIS AS YOUR STATUS on your Profile. Thanks

Do you think, or know, you were a victim of this insidious hoax?

The problem with malware and spyware is its hard to detect, and its becoming an ever more common problem. Even more problematic than virus attacks.

Best Buy’s Geek Squad will charge any where from $200—$300 to remove spyware from your computer, but I strongly recommend you purchase Spyware Doctor software from PC Tools. It costs only $39.95 and can be installed on up to 3 computers. I recommend Spyware Doctor over any other antispyware program on the market today, but it’s not available in stores.

Only have one computer? Why not ask a friend or relative if they’d like to split the cost with you? You can have PC Tools mail you a CD copy for $9.95.

Read more Skylarking articles about Internet and email hoaxes circulating the web:

Save 38% on Social Networking and Blogging for Dummies

Is there a nicer way to start the day then by opening an email from Amazon.com letting you know that “March is Dummies Month”? I don’t think so, but then again, I haven’t smelled the coffee yet either.

All the books in the Dummies series are 38% off this month, so many titles can be acquired for less than $20, and if you buy two, you’ll probably get free shipping on your order over $25. Here are a few select titles to consider today:

Facebook for Dummies Facebook For DummiesFor better or worse, you’ve heard of Facebook, but you haven’t the slightest idea what it’s about, or maybe you’re already using Facebook, and you want to get the most of it. This is your book… (don’t take it personally).
Google Adsense for Dummies Google AdSense For DummiesOkay, so you’ve been seeing articles and ads here and there telling you how to make money online with Google Ads (Adsense). Which of these systems are scams? What does it take to succeed with Google ads? Get this book to find out what involved. (Have you noticed the Ads for Google blocks scattered around this site? Hmm? Have you?)
web-dummies Web Marketing For Dummies By implementing effective Web marketing strategies, you can quickly build a successful Web site and business. But how do you take on search engine optimization and search engine marketing to achieve the results you want? Web Marketing For Dummies, 2nd Edition shows you how! This guide helps you apply your marketing knowledge to the Web world, taking you on the path to online marketing success. In this book you’ll find out how to use online tools to spread your marketing message; establish a strong Web presence; promote your site with e-mail marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, and social networking tools; and measure your marketing success.
pod-dummies Podcasting For Dummies Podcasts? These are video or audio clips which can be shared and distributed online. The term came about with the advent of the iPod as it gave people an opportunity to spread or broadcast their message through iPods and the iTunes service, but now it’s so much more than that, and anyone can do it. Seriously.New tools have made it easier to create a podcast. Podcasting For Dummies shows you how you can create and distribute your own online recordings using tools you already have. Chapters cover: Choosing a topic that fits your expertise; writing an outline or script for your podcast; picking the microphone, headphones, and audio editing software that best suit your needs, conducting interviews and recording an interview subject who’s not in the room with you; finding a place to host your podcast online; promoting your podcasts in the blogosphere, online discussion groups, and social networking sites; seeking out sponsors, advertising, and subscriptions to make your podcast pay; and creating podcasts designed to promote a business.Interested in getting help with your own podcast? Why not try contacting Bruce Chamoff at Hot Web Ideas and his podcasting network? Tell him Skylarking sent you.

skylarkshelfHere’s a great endorsement for the Dummies series of books: A snapshot of a shelf from one of my office bookcases. I’ve got the books: Fundraising For Dummies, Nonprofit Kit For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance)) for my work with non-profit organizations, eBay For Dummiesand Starting an eBay Business For Dummies, Office 2007 All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummiesand FrontPage 2003 All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, PHP & MySQL For Dummies, there’s Howie Jacobsen‘s book, AdWords For Dummies, PayPal For Dummies, and last of all Norton Internet Security For Dummies. You can click on the photo for a larger image.




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