Friday, July 25, 2014

Thinking about online security


A few weeks ago, rather accidentally, as the boy was looking for the website of a friend of his who's a photographer, we discovered that many, many posts of this blog had been stolen and posted in some random website. They took photos from the blog as well as arbitrary pieces of text (not complete posts, just some paragraphs here and there) and pasted them in several articles on a website. It seems to me that it was done by someone "playing" on wordpress, trying to learn how it works. There are of course no links back here, no way to comment on said blog, and no information about the "author". No email, nothing. We contacted the company hosting said website and we have had no answer. I do not know how to proceed from here. Some of the photos were just of museums and the things I cook or our city outings and such, but others were personal photos. I know I am naive, I knew this could happen at any moment, but I just trusted that almost no one was reading my ramblings and that those of you who were here, regularly, were here with good intentions (as I know you are).

As a result, I am a lot more wary of the things I share online, of what could happen. So, when I was contacted by SingleHop  (a provider of cloud hosting and IT infrastructure services), asking if I would like to write a post in collaboration with them about how to be safe online, mentioning the top 3 things I wouldn't ever share on the big wide internet, I agreed.
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Three Pieces of Personal Information To Never Share Online

There are a lot of ways to share information about yourself on the Internet. Social media like Facebook and Twitter ask for a lot of this information during account creation. As we all know, this information is then displayed to anybody who stops by your page. Unfortunately, cyber crime is becoming more commonplace on the Internet. There is some information that should best be under limited sharing or never shared online to help keep you and your family safe. For instance:


Your Full Name and Birthdate
Both of these pieces of information should be kept off the Internet whenever possible. There are viruses that can target company servers that have your personal information stored in their database. Your full name and birthdate can be used to open up false accounts in your name. This is called identity theft. Identity theft can easily wreak havoc on your life, and it can take months or years to fix the damage it causes.


Your Home Address / Home town

There are many websites online that ask for your address as part of your membership creation. Once they have this information, they can do anything that they want with it. This can create situations where you're receiving mail advertisements from a company you've never heard of. While that may only be a nuisance, some of the mail that you receive could be a scam set up with the intent of stealing some piece of your financial information like your bank account or credit card number.


Your Real-time location
For a lot of people, posting where they are on Twitter, Facebook or Foursquare seems like a harmless way to tell friends and family what they're up to. However, this type of information can set you up to be the victim of crime. While you may only intend for friends and family to see your message, certain websites allow anyone who looks at your page to see what you posted by default. This means that your home could be burglarized because you're not there, or you could be kidnapped or attacked if you're out by yourself. These kinds of updates make it easier for criminals to act against you.


I truly feel this is important to share because it is easy to forget the scope of the Internet and what can happen when we post our information. The Internet is a great tool and resource for everybody, but, we often seem to forget, it is not without danger. We should study  privacy settings to make sure they are set up correctly on social media websites so that only the people you want viewing your posts are able to.

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This is a non-sponsored post written in conjunction with SingleHop, a provider of cloud hosting and IT infrastructure services. They are based out of Chicago, IL, and pride themselves on their customer service. If you’d like to learn more about SingleHop and their products and services, check them out here.
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I know a lot of this might seem obvious, we've heard these messages a million times, over and over again, and I feel a little bit silly posting stuff that everyone knows, yet, we can never be too careful. I guess I am still in shock at what happened, even if it seems harmless and spammy. Maybe I am paranoid, but now that we have a tiny one, the urge and need to protect her is extremely strong. I wish we could be more open and carefree, but I guess a bubble has been burst. 

9 comments:

  1. OMG I am so sorry this happened! I don't really share photos on fb and share them on my blog instead... now I am wanting to go back and delete some of the photos I've posted. I am ao paranoid of random creepy people looking at our pictures. Like you, I figured it was all good people reading, but you just never know!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I thought it was just weird. I mean it seems to have been done just for "practice", but that's not the way to do things. Suddenly I felt so vulnerable because it was all out of my control.

      Delete
  2. Weird! Time to start watermarking your photos?!

    Side-note, I finally subscribed successfully to your blog! lol I don't know why I couldn't do it before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I guess I have to figure out something like that. And protect baby Y. as well.

      Thanks for subscribing :) I am glad it worked (I am not very good at IT either).

      Delete
  3. This is what I'm struggling with. I want to protect my daughter's privacy and be a good steward of her online identity until she's old enough to wield it herself (in whatever Wild Wild West version of the Internet that will exist when she's old enough). My blog has a fairly small reach, and if anything, my Facebook's reach is greater, so I've only posted one full face photo of her on Facebook, and I'm contemplating what -- if anything -- to post on my blog. But I so want to continue to share my life and she's a huge part of that! It's tricky and I don't think there's a right answer to it all.

    I can't believe someone stole your stuff like that! Well, I mean I *can* believe it, because it's the Internet, but still! :[

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's complicated, I think I will continue to share, but sadly, I think I will just try not to show her face so much. Which feels weird because this is a space where I want to be completely open.

      As for Facebook, even if I too have a wider reach, I have the illusion of having more of a sense of control (privacy settings, ability to delete photos, etc.). And I think I know the people that I've added, but you never know. And it's true that sometimes when people comment on a 3rd person's account, you are still able to see it.

      It was just weird that it happened like that.

      Delete
  4. (Grr, the internet keeps eating my comments!)

    I'm so sorry that this happened to you, that really really sucks. Sometimes I get so paranoid about privacy on the internet, that's why I try to not post photos of my daughter on my blog or my instagram feed (which is public).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, something is up with the comments, on other blogger blogs as well,but I don't know how to dix it.

      And yeah, I will be a lot more careful now. I just really didn't expect it to happen at all, I mean , I am not a photographer and I thought this place was really small and that only "readers" were reading it.

      Delete
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