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Facebook Privacy – Securing Your Online Content

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facebook privacy securityFacebook Privacy – This is a topic of thousands of blogs posts. It is something we have been warned about time and time again. Almost weekly we hear about social media accounts being compromised.

In all honesty, how bad can it really get? Is that what you are thinking? Who would want to hack my online content? Well perhaps you should ask Mat Honan that question.

We need to be aware of an online culture, where (let’s call them) hackers will try to compromise your on-line accounts just for the challenge of doing so. For others, there is a more sinister agenda behind their motives. Just ask the South African Postbank.

Online Security – High Profile Hacks

In recent months, big name companies  have been the target of hackers. While many believe that many of the high profile hacks have been perpetrated by foreign governments, it should go to show that the art of warfare is being waged in bits and bytes.

Unfortunately, there will always be warfare. Just how that war is waged on-line will determine who remains victorious. In January of 2012 the South African Postbank was hacked and R42 million (about $4 million) transferred into other accounts. From there it was immediately withdrawn and laundered.

Earlier this year customer support technology vendor Zendesk was hacked. On the Twitter front, Jeep, Burger King and the Associated Press have borne the brunt of being hacked. The latter hack of the AP’s Twitter account had a more serious consequence causing the Dow Jones industrial average to fall 143 points.

Jonathan James was given six months sentence of house arrest for hacking both the Department of Defense and NASA computer systems. Apparently he also stole a software program worth $1.7 million.

Adrian Lamo used public internet access points such as coffee shops and internet cafe’s to compromise the systems of Microsoft, Yahoo!, The New York Times Bank of America, Cingular and Citigroup.

Kevin Poulsen (like a boss) used his hacking expertise to ensure that he was the correct caller in to a radio station who was giving away a Porsche. He then caught the attention of the authorities when he started hacking the FBI database. Then America’s Most Wanted displayed his picture in one of their shows. According to rumor Kevin crashed their phone system to prevent witnesses from calling in.

There certainly are individuals out there that possess the know-how to compromise people’s on-line information. Therefore it still absolutely floors me when I see people being so ignorant about their on-line content. Case in point below:

website

“The password is [name omitted]’s middle name (remember to capitalize the first letter).” Can anyone spell honeypot. Man, this guy even put’s the initial of his middle name in the flash intro of his site. Seriously, how long does he think it would take for someone to guess the correct name beginning with a C for example. I wanted to try and contact this individual to warn him, but there exists no contact info on his page.

Facebook Privacy – What You Can Do

I do find it slightly surprising when someone tells me that they aren’t on Facebook. But from time to time it does happen (my colleague and friend Vince doesn’t do Facebook). Nevertheless, with the spate of recent Facebook cloning going on, how private is your data? When last have you spent a few minutes checking the hatches and bolting the doors on content you don’t want to make public? Unfortunately, an unsecured Facebook profile is a smorgasbord of information for the nefarious.

Facebook makes this process surprisingly easy to perform, but not immediately obvious. Let’s take a look at what we can do.

facebook privacy profile page

This is how my Facebook timeline looks to the public.

Facebook Privacy view public

Facebook allows you to view your Facebook account as a specific person would see it, or as a global audience would. To do this, click on the padlock next to the gear icon.

Facebook Privacy who can see my stuff

Click on the ‘Who can see my stuff?’ link.

what other people see

This will expand the menu to display the sub-options available. We are only interested in the ‘What do other people see on my timeline?’ link.

Facebook Privacy view as person or global

This will render your Facebook page as a global audience would see it. You can also view your Facebook profile as a specific person. Let’s just assume that some people might feel obliged to have their boss as a friend on Facebook, but you might not want him or her to see everything you do. You can now click on About, Photos etc. to see exactly what information other people can see. If you feel that you want to change anything, start with the following.

Facebook Privacy change security settings

Click the gear icon.

Facebook Privacy settings menu

Select Privacy Settings.

Facebook Privacy settings and tools

From  the Privacy Settings and Tools screen, you can change a variety of settings. But this is surprisingly not enough.

select timeline

Head on over to your Timeline by clicking on your name.

About timeline profile

Proceed to click on the About tab.

About Privacy settings

Here, next to each section you will see an Edit button. Each section allows you to change the privacy settings.

Edit About Section privacy

The ‘Living’ section allows you to set the visibility of your current city and hometown. In the same way, each section allows you to individually define the privacy settings.

facebook privacy security settings

Lastly, a good idea would be to review your Security Tab too. Here are some really useful settings to secure your Facebook account even more. I would suggest revisiting the privacy and security settings of your Facebook profile every few months. For any of your other on-line accounts, enable two-step authentication if available and any other settings to secure your information.

Facebook Privacy – The iOS App

Here is a quick reminder if you’re using the official iOS Facebook Application.

facebook privacy mobile photo share

Sharing a photo or other image is easy from within the iOS Facebook application.

facebook privacy tag friends

As soon as I tag a friend, Facebook for iOS automatically adds a second tag. Tap on the section indicated above.

Edit Facebook Mobile Photo Tags

You will see that because I tagged a friend, Facebook for iOS automatically made the picture visible to all the friends of the person I tagged. Be sure to consider this fact when posting pictures on Facebook for iOS. You will be sharing those images with everyone the person you tagged is friends with.

Dirk Strauss
Dirk is a Software Developer and Microsoft MVP from South Africa. He loves all things Technology and is slightly addicted to Twitter and Jimi Hendrix. Apart from writing code, he also enjoys writing human readable articles. "I love sharing knowledge and connecting with people from around the world. It's the diversity that makes life so beautiful." Dirk feels very strongly that pizza is simply not complete without Tabasco, that you can never have too much garlic, and that cooking the perfect steak is an art he has yet to master.

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