Saturday, March 30, 2013

5 things you should consider removing or not posting to Facebook

5 things you should consider removing or not posting to Facebook and/or other social networks.

1. You or Your Family's Full Birth Dates and Address
We all love getting happy birthdays from our friends on our Facebook wall. It makes us feel all warm inside knowing that people remembered and cared enough to write us a short note on our special day. If you are having a private party, leave the address off Facebook, unless you are in a public place. We have all seen what happens in the media, when you or your friends privacy settings are compromised. The problem is when you list your birthday and your address, you are providing identity thieves with 2 of the 3 or 4 pieces of personal information that is needed to steal your identity. It's best to not list the address or the birth date at all, but if you must list the birth date, at least leave out the year. Your real friends should know this info anyway.

2. Your Relationship Status
Whether you are in a relationship or not, it may be best not to make it public knowledge. Stalkers would love to know that you just became newly single. If you change your status to "single" it gives them the green light they were looking for to resume stalking now that you're back on the market. It also lets them know that you might be home alone since your significant other is no longer around. Your best bet is to just leave this blank on your profile.

3. Your Current Location
There are a lot of people who love the location tagging feature on Facebook that allows them to let people know where they are 24/7. The problem is that you have just told everyone that you're on vacation (and not at your house). If you add how long your trip is then thieves know exactly how much time they have to rob you. My advice is not to provide your location at all. You can always upload your vacation pictures when you get home or text your friends to let them know how jealous they should be that you're sipping an umbrella drink while they toil away at work.

4. The Fact That You Are Home Alone
It is extremely important that parents make sure their children never put the fact that they are home alone in their status. Again, you wouldn't walk into a room of strangers and tell them you are going to be all alone at your house so don't do it on Facebook either.

We may think that only our friends have access to our status, but we really have no idea who is reading it. Your friend may have had their account hacked or someone could be reading over their shoulder at the library. The best rule of thumb is not to put anything in your profile or status that you wouldnot want a stranger to know. You may have the most stringent privacy settings possible, but if your friends account gets compromised than those settings go out the window.

5. Pictures of Your Kids Tagged With Their Names
We love our kids. We would do anything to keep them safe, but most people post hundreds of tagged pictures and videos of their kids to Facebook without even giving it a second thought. We even go so far as to replace our profile pictures with that of our children.

Probably 9 out of 10 parents posted their child's full name, and exact date and time of birth while they were still in the hospital after delivery. We post pictures of our kids and tag them and their friends, siblings, and other relatives. This kind of information could be used by predators to lure your child. They could use your child's name and the names of their relatives and friends to build trust and convince them that they are not really a stranger because they know detailed information that allows them to build a rapport with your child.

If you must post pictures of your children then you should at least remove personally identifying information such as their full names and birth dates. Untag them in pictures.Your real friends know their names anyway.

I would be a hypocrite if I said that I have completely removed all tagged pictures of my kids on Facebook. It is a daunting task given the amount of pictures that we take as proud parents, but I have started on it and I'll do a little bit each day until it's finished.

Lastly: think twice before you tag pictures of the children of friends and relatives. They might not want you tagging their kids for the reasons mentioned above. You can send them a link to the pictures and they can tag themselves in place of their children if they want to.

Think twice before you tag photos of your friends or relatives, ask them first, they might not want you tagging them for security reasons as mentioned above.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Now A Handbook on Laws of Cyber Warfare by NATO

A handbook by Nato's Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), located in Tallinn, Estonia is released. The centre was established in 2008 after Estonia suffered massive cyber attacks which wreaked havoc on the country's network infrastructure.
The guidelines include a provision for states to respond with conventional force if cyber attacks by another state resulted in death or significant damage to property. It also states that hackers who take part in online attacks during a war can be legitimate targets even though they are technically civilians and not soldiers.
Some rules that cover conventional warfare such as the Geneva Convention have been adapted to the internet. For example, attacks on certain key civilian sites are outlawed.
In order to avoid the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population, particular care must be taken during cyber attacks against works and installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations, as well as installations located in their vicinity. Hospitals and medical units are also to be protected.
Another interesting point is that launching an attack from a neutral country's computer network is forbidden in much the same way that conventional armies aren't allowed to march through a neutral country's territory to attack another country.
The handbook, which is published by Cambridge University Press, is neither an official Nato document nor is it Nato policy. It is merely an advisory manual. Nevertheless, it is a landmark development as it represents the first-ever attempt to codify how international law applies to online attacks. 
You can read it at

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