Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Let's Be Careful Out There!

During the Winter Olympics a bronze medalist snowboarder was seen having a bit too much fun. Photographs surfaced on the Internet and the U.S. Olympic Committee deemed his conduct was bad enough to send him home. My brother pointed out to me 15 years ago this incident would have gone unnoticed -- most likely no one would have heard about it -- and if they did, the news would not have been in real time! The Internet along with the proliferation of cell phone cameras has made it difficult for celebrities to maintain any sense of privacy these days.

What about the rest of us? HBO's The Wire makes it clear if someone wants to know what we're up to, they can find out if we're not careful. "Do you feel me??" (you Wire aficionados understand!)  Stringer Bell notwithstanding, there are steps we can take to maintain some privacy and security while utilizing the great tools of the Internet.

Everyone knows the basics :
  • Open emails only from individuals you know.  And if you are sent a link from someone you don't know, don't click on it!
  • Use strong passwords for your online accounts, and always logout of your online account when you are done
  • Set your browser to automatically delete cookies and temporary files when you exit
  • Run firewall, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software
For more privacy tips check out these links : Privacy and The Internet, Internet Privacy and Email Security, and Privacy.org.

Now, what else can we do? Here's a nice tool to monitor your exposure on the Internet : Google Alerts. You define a phrase and get regular reports every time that phrase is found by Google's network of bots... I have alerts set up for my phone number and street address. If these show up somewhere on the Internet I get an email showing how they are being presented. You can set up alerts for your name as well, if it's unique enough. There are way too many people with my name, so it's not very effective... check it out... you can also use it for other productive purposes, such as marketing for your business -- see how often your business is getting it's name out there...

There are obviously many tips and techniques to maintain privacy on the Internet. Social Networking brings a new level of privacy techniques that need to be understood... I'll try to expound with more detail in upcoming blog posts.

I'll sign off for now with a quote from Sargeant Phil Esterhaus, "Let's be careful out there..."

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