You think You know Me?
Want to give it a try? Lets just see! Try to answer these:
- What is my middle name?
- What is my online nickname?
- What is my favorite color?
- What day is my birthday
- What is my hair color?
- What is my favorite restaurant?
- What is my favorite NCAA Football Team?
- What is my view on gun control?
- What is my view on illegal immigrants?
- What is my opinion of O’Bama?
- What is the name of the company I work for?
- What is my dad’s name?
- What is my mom’s name?
- What is my sister’s name?
- What state do I live in?
- What city do I live in?
- What will happen to you if you break into my home?
- What will happen to you if you try to attack me or my family?
Shut up! You don’t know me; Facebook knows me!
All of this information is available on Facebook (and probably countless other websites).
Ok, Ok, I’ll get to the point…
The idea behind this was not to challenge your level of friendship, insult, offend or threaten you. This is just a simple test in the privacy of information. I am well aware how publicly available information is, whether it should be or not.
Have you tried searching for your self on the internet? Have you tried searching for your wife, husband or kids on the internet? Maybe you should! You may be shocked at the information available about you and other members of your family.
You know you are lost when even Google can’t find you!
Sometimes it’s a good thing if Google can’t find you.
I’m not telling you to start cyber-stalking your family. I’m talking about preventing the cyber-stalking of your family by others.
One bad thing about the internet is once the information is published, there ain’t no taking it off! It really is a waste of time to try.
Education and Awareness is the answer.
Being a member of Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other Social Platforms isn’t the issue. The real issue is not paying attention to the amount of information you willingly post about yourself, share with others, and what security options you have elected.
Take some time to read about how social platforms work. Pay special attention to how to configure security settings and restrict information.
Educate your family about what information should and should not be shared. Be aware and help your family be aware of the potential dangers of sharing too much information. The number of cyber crimes continues to rise, due to the fact information about people is so easy to come by.
Think about this…
A stalker doesn’t have to know the address to your house, to attack a member of your family. A stalker could find out what someone looks like by seeing a picture on a Facebook profile (for example). The stalker could also see what city and state you live in, what school your kids may attend, where your husband or wife works, what extracurricular activities you are each involved in and so on.
What can you do?
- First, don’t start by trying to ban your kids from the internet. They will get online at some point. This effort is futile, and could lead them to setting up online accounts you don’t know about.
- I encourage everyone to have internet at their homes. This gives you the chance to educate everyone about acceptable online behavior and what information should/should not be shared with other people. These days, research for school projects, recipes, directions and just about anything else is available online. Having the internet available at home, allows your kids to use it under your supervision, and not under someone else’s or no supervision at all.
- A standard firewall and virus protection is not enough for the computers, used by your family. You need a firewall with a web content filter and a web logger (web proxy) built in. This way, you can block access to specific sites, while monitoring other sites the family may browse. Be open and honest with the entire family about this type of device being used and what it is used for. Re-enforce your position of protection and safety of the family, while they are online, while trying to prevent the infection of the computer system by adware, malware, spam, spyware and viruses. A computer infected with any of these can pose a severe privacy issue and it can be costly to repair. You want this type of firewall to be directly behind your cable or dsl modem, but in front of all other devices which need to be online. This will allow you to effectively monitor connections for any computer/laptop, game console (I.E. PS3 XBox, Wii & etc.) TV’s, DVD/BlueRay Players and Entertainment Consoles (I.E. Cable TV/DirecTV Boxes), all of which can get online and browse the internet these days.
- Make sure you are active in the lives of your family members. Being involved makes you visible to whomever else is interested. Being involved also gives you incite to information which may not come up in a casual conversation. Things like what outfit was worn? Was there a jacket, backpack, wallet or purse? Was there any jewelry? What type/color of shoes? What type/color of socks? Was there an athletic uniform and what number/color? Did they wear hair bows, barrettes, ball caps or bandannas? What direction do they leave and /or come home? Who are their friends, who do you see them with, and who do they talk about?
- Help your kids set up accounts with the various social platforms. Take the responsibility to set the various security options in a way that best protects them. Make sure you add them as friends (Facebook) or follow them (Twitter). This allows you to see what is being posted and stay connected (online) with your family. This also makes it possible for family members to see when other family members are online.
- Add plenty of other adults you know and trust as friends (Facebook) or follow them (Twitter). Help your family members also connect with these people. This just helps build a community of people to help keep an eye on what is going on, when you or your family members is online.
- Keep tabs on who your family adds as friends (Facebook) or follows (Twitter). Are they people you know? How does your family member know them? Does this person’s family know they are online? Is this person’s privacy settings adequate?
- Be involved in online community groups and pages which help look after the privacy, safety and security of families online.
- Find out how active local law enforcement and search/rescue teams are on the these same social platforms. Make sure these people are part of your friends (Facebook) or follows (Twitter), as well as the rest of your family. While many law enforcement agencies are active online, you may or may not be able to identify who they are, and they may or may not know you or your family. A simple, face to face introduction with someone at the local precinct could go a long ways to help with this.
- Make sure each person in the family has a way to get in touch with any other family member, when they are not online. I’m not a huge fan of kids having cell phones, but this really is the best way for them to be able to get in touch with parents or other family/adults, the quickest. Make sure you set up speed-dialing for them, and make sure they can use it. I’m not a big fan of the GPS tracking, but make sure the GPS tracking is turned on. I don’t want big brother watching me, but if big brother can help me find my wife or kids, that is fantastic.
- Set up a set of 911 contacts in each phone as the phone number to another parent/adult. This can help law enforcement get in touch with people faster.
- and you get the idea!
Make sure to set these up as the first several numbers on that phones speed-dial list and again, make sure they understand how to use it.
- When you have questions or concerns, ask for help. It isn’t good enough to settle with the help of a local computer geek or family computer guru. If you need help with this type of scenario, you need people you can trust, who have experience with these issues. You want people who have nothing to gain from anything other than helping you and your family remain safe and secure. Insist on clean background and drug checks, after all, they may need to be in your home, with you and your family, when providing assistance or other services.