HOW TO: Tech Security: Part 1 — Facebook

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Privacy Risks

We all like to keep our info private and secure and our devices working the way we expect them to.  And there are a whole slew of folks who want exactly the opposite.  There are ways to avoid having those people make us unhappy via our tech.

The least secure connection to our devices isn’t on our devices.  It’s us.  Phishing attacks gain far too much access to our lives and our devices.  So, we’re starting the series with a non-tech issue and solution.  Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us are on Facebook.  And that’s what we’ll discuss, today.

The more visible your profile is, the more likely it is to get the wrong kind of attention.  I’ve written a few books, promote those and my blog posts, and I have a good sized friends list.  That seems to make me a honeypot for phishing schemes.

The usual attempt to get my attention is a friend request.  On Facebook, that’s where we can either be our own best or worst friend.  I’ve seen far too many just accept the requests without checking them.  I may be a little paranoid about it, but I’ve gotten the fakes, some better at it than others.  And I’ve developed a procedure for dealing with friend requests that just might help others.

  • The first thing I check is whether they’ve contacted me explaining why they want to connect.  Even if all the rest of the reasons why I’d hesitate are there, this might give a good enough explanation to take the plunge.
  • The second thing I do is check my friends list.  Are they already there?  That might be a hint this is fake.  Or it might be that they’ve lost access to a previous profile (forgot a password, etc.) and are starting over.  I have some friends who are so tech challenged that it’s easier for them to start over.
  • Next, I’ll check the person’s profile.  If there’s little or no activity, that’s a sign it may be fake.  But I’ll also compare that with what I know of the person.  And how recent is the activity?
  • I also look at their friends list.  Are there a lot of friends in common?  Are the only people in their friends list the ones in common?  Unless there’s a common location or activity, that could be a warning sign.
  • If I decide to wait to respond, which can be up to a month, has the friends list changed?  And how?  Is there fresh posting or conversation activity on the profile in that time?  If not, that’s a red flag, too.

Privacy Risks Facebook

If I’ve waited and done all the other things and decided to accept the friend request, I may still be wary.  Perhaps there’s only one friend or none in common.  But there are some things that get my negative attention.  If it’s someone I’ve spent time with, I’ll really notice if their online communication doesn’t match my previous experience with them.

If I don’t know the person, then does their communication match what their profile suggests should be how they handle English.  I had a very recent incident where I connected with someone from the midwest whose profile suggested they were educated and upper middle class.  I’d be excessively kind to suggest their very first communication was sloppy English.  Add to that the fact that the conversation very quickly turned to how I could get lots of money and I knew enough to unfriend them without warning.

If you have an ear for language, people from different areas of the world will have regional differences in how they communicate in English.  If someone speaks or writes English differently than what would be expected of their background, be wary.

If you pay attention to what we’ve said, there’s no 100% guarantee you won’t still miss something and get fooled.  But you’re far less likely to get taken.  Before someone complains that this sounds like profiling, this isn’t in the way we usually complain about.  We’re not saying someone is going to be a certain way because of race or nationality.  What we are saying is that you need to be very cautious if your online experience with someone is different from how their own profile portrays them.  Remember, it’s your life, your reputation, and your finances that could be at stake.

We have more to come, later in the week.  Are you ready to keep the bad guys at bay?

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