Social Privacy: What Does This Really Mean?

If Facebook has learned one thing from its social media reign, it’s that users take the appearance of the platform very seriously. As a company this is great since it means users are loyal and inspired to stay connected with Facebook. The universal rollout ofTimeline in 2012 created havoc in the social media community, as hoards of Facebookers took to Internet chat rooms and profiles to voice their opinions about the visual appeal of the format change, as well as the increased visibility of uploaded content on profiles. With the introduction of a redesigned News Feed and plans to update the Timeline appearance and implement Facebook Graph Search, users once again responded with their honest feedback. Some of the most common user concerns relate to unknown individuals viewing private content through friends’ comments, as well as social reader and movie viewing app publications on the News Feed.

Read more on Huffington Post

Besides Music, What Do Rihanna, Miley and Taylor Have in Common?

   In the world of pop culture, nothing entices the public more than celebrity gossip. Search Google Trends on any given day, and famous sports figures, reality stars, singers and actors undoubtedly top the list of the most sought-after Internet topics. Sadly, the global appeal of celebrity serves as the ideal niche for eager hackers and cyber criminals looking to uncover personal information from unsuspecting celebrity inquirers. One such emergent trend in phishing scams targets the public fascination with celebrity scandal, as fabricated videos and newsfeeds tempt Internet users to access corrupted content containing viruses and other hacker material aimed at collecting personal information.

read more on Huffington Post

You Never Know Who is Watching

The term personal computer means much more than the phrase typically implies. Computers represent such an integral part of our personal lives that we use them in almost every possible setting. We review business emails in our pajamas, check status updates while brushing our teeth and browse the Internet while cooking dinner. Unfortunately, computer users may be most vulnerable to a disturbing trend in hacking crimes while in the comfort of their own homes, as hackers work to gain control of victims’ computers in order to watch their every move through connected webcams.

Read more on Huffington Post

 

Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam is an online safety, security, and privacy expert and CEO of SSP Blue, an online security consultancy. He is also a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, CBS, HLNTV.com, and abcnews.com.  To sign up for SSP Blue’s Weekly News & Info, please click here, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  See also Hemu’s personal site.

Disney MagicBands to Deliver New Experiences

Kids all around the world dream about the day they visit the magical world of Disney. For many of these children, Disney parks and resorts represent a world of legend filled with enchanted princesses, celebrated adventures and beloved animated characters turned into real-life photo opportunities. Beginning this spring, Disney plans to issue digital ID bracelets to collect and analyze visitor preferences and spending information with just the tap of a wrist — thus helping to materialize each customer’s Disney dreams by offering individualized experiences and tailored marketing information.

Read more on Huffington Post

 

Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam is an online safety, security, and privacy expert and CEO of SSP Blue, an online security consultancy. He is also a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, CBS, HLNTV.com, and abcnews.com.  To sign up for SSP Blue’s Weekly News & Info, please click here, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  See also Hemu’s personal site.

Will 2013 be the Year of Privacy on Steroids?

Last week we saw how 2012 was ‘The Year of Privacy’.  As I was flying 30,000 feet above sea level after spending time at the International Consumer Electronics Show, it became quite clear that 2013 is going to be ‘the Year of Privacy on Steroids’.  With so many new sites, gadgets, and technology offerings integrating social media into their core functionalities, legislators will be hungry to regulate and legislate. The notion of privacy has become indelibly integrated into all aspects of our lives impacting what we do on a daily and hourly basis. We communicate, we entertain, we consume, we share, we travel – we live.  And as technology and the online world continue to advance, we are seeing the introduction of new legislation that impacts our private lives.

Read more on Huffington Post

 

Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam is an online safety, security, and privacy expert and CEO of SSP Blue, an online security consultancy. He is also a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, CBS, HLNTV.com, and abcnews.com.  To sign up for SSP Blue’s Weekly News & Info, please click here, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  See also Hemu’s personal site.

Was 2012 the Year of Privacy?

As social technology continues to advance, privacy continues to get attention from the government, consumers and media. Privacy-based fears and concerns, whether legitimate or not, fueled many of the big privacy events in 2012. The following countdown gives you just a glimpse of online privacy from this past year.

Read more on Huffington Post

 

Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam is an online safety, security, and privacy expert and CEO of SSP Blue, an online security consultancy. He is also a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, CBS, HLNTV.com, and abcnews.com.  To sign up for SSP Blue’s Weekly News & Info, please click here, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  See also Hemu’s personal site.


The Internet Remembers, And So Must We

A new scandal surfaces almost weekly in Hollywood, and nothing receives more media attention than the release of a new celebrity sex tape.  With 42 million search results for “Kim Kardashian sex tape” appearing online, no question exists about the extent of the world’s fascination with publicized celebrity indiscretions.

The attention celebrities receive for such actions often influences other Internet users to document and broadcast their own private activities (frequently to the determinant of personal relationships, careers, educational opportunities and community standings).  A simple click to post a video or image can have permanent, far-reaching and severe implications for not only the posters but also their innocent friends, family, or acquaintances.

Read more

 

Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam is an online safety, security, and privacy expert and CEO of SSP Blue, an online security consultancy. He is also a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, CBS, HLNTV.com, and abcnews.com.  To sign up for SSP Blue’s Weekly News & Info, please click here, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  See also Hemu’s personal site.

Is Facebook Denying Democracy to a Billion People?

Did you vote? And no, I am not talking about for Romney or Obama. Or anything political for that matter. I am talking Facebook. A few years ago, Facebook was the first company of its kind to experiment with democracy when it provided its users with the right to vote on policy changes and updates. While news of this new social media democracy spread like wildfire, not even 1 percent of Facebook’s 1 billion users actually voted.

Facebook announced last week that it is taking back the right to vote, resulting in severe backlash from the general public and privacy advocacy groups around the world. Users took to their Facebook timelines to address their concerns and to attempt to protect their privacy and copyright rights by posting a long message with lots of legal mumbo jumbo. A bit of research can go along way as this ended up being a hoax fabricated to create a privacy scare amid Facebook’s recent privacy changes.

Facebook provided users with the right to vote back in 2009 in an attempt get feedback about updates to its policies. Since then, the company has tripled in size, gone public, and now has Wall Street stakeholders that it must answer to. Facebook pointed out that the voting process ended up emphasizing ‘quantity over quality’, and the experiment with democracy just didn’t work.

But before attacking Facebook for taking away the inalienable right to democracy, let’s take a minute to think about what Facebook is actually doing. Facebook’s recent changes are actually not new in the way businesses have defined the rules of the game with their customers for hundreds of years in society and now online.  In the online world, we call these rules of engagement Terms of Use and Privacy Policies.  These terms lay out clearly what consumers are allowed to do and not to do and also lay out what consumers can expect from the companies they are doing business with. This is no different to what has always happened in the ‘real’ world, where businesses like Target and Kmart won’t accept returns without receipts, don’t allow more than a few items in the dressing rooms at the same time, reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, use undercover cameras to look for shoplifters, and can search bags when a customer is exiting their store.   Or take movie theaters as another example, where moviegoers risk removal from the cinema for bringing in a drink purchased at another store or for talking while a movie is playing.

Terms of Use and Privacy Policies have existed before Facebook was born, and yet many are blaming Facebook for ending an experiment that just didn’t work for their business or their customers. Democracy is a concept inextricably intertwined with the way governments should govern while preserving certain freedoms.  One of the most quintessential rights in a democratic society is the right for a business to set the rules of how they want to interact with their customers.  Similarly, consumers have the right to choose which businesses they interact with.

Kudos to Facebook for exercising its rights in a free democracy!

 

Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam is an online safety, security, and privacy expert and CEO of SSP Blue, an online security consultancy. He is also a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, CBS, HLNTV.com, and abcnews.com.  To sign up for SSP Blue’s Weekly News & Info, please click here, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  See also Hemu’s personal site.

Put Your Best Digital Footprint Forward

The phrase “digital footprint” might not mean much to you right now, but it should. Digital or viral footprint refers to the mass of content on the Internet that can be linked to you and, therefore, located by anyone doing a search on you. The list of possible places for content to be visible is seemingly endless: your wedding video on YouTube, an article mentioning your car accident, spring break photos you might want to forget about…the list goes on. And, most likely, this content will be accessed at some point in your life by an outside source doing an assessment of your character.

A number of user content-based websites have become useful instruments in hiring, making decisions on school admissions, dating choices, purchasing and a number of other important arenas. In fact, CareerBuilder reports that 37% of employers are using social media searches when considering candidates. Facebook posts and Tweets, for example, can now also be used in criminal courts. Simply put, the Internet has a memory, and it never forgets. That can make anything mentioning an individual very important.

More sites are offering stringent privacy settings that allow people to keep their profiles private, or to hide personal information. However useful, and important, these settings are, they don’t do anything to help what you might have already posted.

With so much of our information in so many places online, can we do anything to take care of or clean up our digital footprints?

There are two general areas you’ll want to look when it comes to your viral footprint: the past and the future.

Out with the old: Given that it is the world’s biggest search engine, Google is a great place to start when assessing and fixing your digital footprint. Google yourself and see what comes up. Don’t like something you see? Check out this recent CNET article for instructions to remove unwanted content from Google. This can be a great tool, but remember that this only removes cached content—not live content—from Google search results. It does not remove the actual page from the web. Google also offers services and tools to track and manage reputations, including removal of objectionable content. If you find something on a website about you that you don’t like, directly contact the webmaster and ask for it to be removed.

In with the new: Judging good content from bad isn’t always as easy as it would seem. Companies such as Reputation.com, Veribo and ViralLock are taking new approaches to online reputations. ViralLock, for instance, performs extensive evaluations of various websites for their clients. Then, the experts at ViralLock provide recommendations and continued monitoring to ensure that a young person’s viral footprint reflects what the person wants it to and showcases their good characteristics.

Here are some tips to ensure that your digital footprint is worth seeing:

  • Remember our simple rule of thumb: only post content that you would be ok with showing to your grandmother.
  • Ask before you tag: remind friends and family to be careful when tagging you in photos, or consider asking them not to tag you at all.
  • Follow your gut: if it seems like a bad idea to post a piece of information, it probably is.
  • Own your own privacy: keep your privacy settings up to date and maintain good password security for all the sites you use to ensure nothing illicit is posted using your account.

So next time you post, remember that good online hygiene is essential to keeping your reputation clean and your digital footprints worth following.

Keeping Dad Happy and Your Wallet Safe

Father’s Day is rapidly approaching. This means we can expect great celebrations, barbeques and great gifts. Many of us will hunt for the best gifts for dad online looking for everything from gadgets to clothes.  Unfortunately, gift giving holidays like Father’s Day also tend to bring out fraudsters and online scammers.

There are thousands of places to find great gifts for dad online and it can be easy to find a great gift on the wrong site.  As we have reported in other blogs about online shopping, carefully choosing sites and methods of transactions can help you ensure that you stay safe and secure online.  Helping all of us, the Better Business Bureau is providing tips on safer shopping that are worth looking at.

According to the annual report on crime and crime statistics by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Americans lost about $485 million last year to scams perpetrated online. Two of the top five crimes reported are connected to shopping online: advanced payment scams and non-delivery of auction items.   An advanced payment scam is when someone pays in advance for an item or service but does not receive anything of value in return. A non-delivery scam is when a consumer purchases something from a site like eBay and does not actually receive the item.

As consumers, we are responsible for making good choices online, but businesses are also responsible for keeping their sites safe. As I wrote in a piece for The Huffington Post last year, there are a number of steps that businesses can take to make sure their sites are secure.  Check to see if the company you are doing business with is doing some of these things.

And here are some tips for you to shop safely:

  • Check addresses carefully. Scammers can fake URLs and web addresses so that they mimic legitimate sites. Check and double check that the URLs are legitimate.
  • Check with the BBB. Run a search for the website you’re thinking of using on The Better Business Bureau’s website to see if the site is known for shady business practices.
  • Consider using payment protection: Using services like PayPal can help keep your information and money secure.
  • Research and use online security tools and services. Some of them are free — a good example is BillGuard, which scans your credit card bills for questionable charges.
  • Do your research. Most scams are talked about on the Internet somewhere. Check out sites and services that track scams like Snopes and scambook.
  • Go with your gut. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Happy holiday shopping!

For more info on online safety, security, and privacy, check back here every week or visit my website.