Top Tips To Stay Secure When Social Networking
     08 Sep 09
Social networking communities continue to grow at an astounding rate, with users adopting the latest services and accessing their profiles using their mobile phone. A study by Comscore revealed that 80% of UK internet users accessed social networking sites in May 2009 and nearly 70% of the entire internet audience are leveraging social network sites. According to Juniper Research, the number of active users of mobile social networking sites will rise from 54 million in 2008 to nearly 730 million in 2013.

As the user base grows, social networks become a popular target for online criminals. In fact, the very qualities that make social networking successful – the wide variety of communication channels, the openness of the networks and the size of the audience – are powerful lures for spammers and hackers.

An example of a common social networking viruses and malicious content attack are messages notifying consumers of a video with them in it. If the user clicks on the link, malware is installed on their computer. Other examples include messages saying that by simply filling out a survey you would receive a gift card from a particular large retail store. Once you filled out the survey and submitted your information, you were then agreeing to receive monthly recurring charges applied to your phone bill, which was hidden in the terms and conditions.

In light of this, Cloudmark, the global leader in carrier grade messaging security, has outlined tips for consumers for safe social networking:
• Know Your Friends—Be wary of “friending” people you don’t know and never reciprocate friend requests from complete strangers. Also, be careful of clicking on links in messages sent to you from strangers––these requests may be from spammers, who can send out links to viruses or other forms of malicious content.

• Choose Applications Wisely—New applications can enhance your social networking experience, but unfortunately some are at the expense of your privacy. Read the fine print and pay attention to the information you expose and the actions you enable when adding applications to your profile. Only install applications from companies that you trust and use privacy settings to manage the information you expose.
• Don’t Share Personal Contact Information—Do not disclose your mobile phone number on your social networking page, this is an easy way for spammers to send spam, viruses, or fraud attacks to your mobile. Also, consider setting up a separate email account specifically for social networks.

• Remember, the Internet is Permanent—Do not post content that you might be embarrassed about in the future. Companies are increasingly screening social media profiles as part of their due diligence for prospective job candidates. Photos and comments that may seem harmless now could cause you to not get your dream job.

• Limit Location-specific Details— Be cautious about posting up-to-the minute status updates. While it’s great to let your friends know where you are or what you’re doing, it could also make you an easy target for stalkers, or a candidate for robbery if you frequently post about when you’ll be away from home.

• Be Smart with Your Passwords— Do not use the same password on multiple social networks and avoid obvious passwords, such as a pet’s name. Store your passwords in a safe place or use a password manager to keep record of your passwords.

• Practice Safe Computing— Do not use a computer that you can’t trust to be clean of viruses, such as public library computers or computers at Internet cafes. If you must use a public PC, do not exchange or save personal or financial information, such as banking ids, passwords, social security numbers, etc.

• Fortify Your Defences—Run up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spam tools and software. Many companies offer free software trials that you can try out before you purchase – just make sure it is a reputable company before downloading anything.

• Check the Fine Print—Read the fine print or terms and conditions before signing up or filling out a survey. Make sure your information is not sold or used for other purposes and guarantee the company is legitimate.

“As spammers, hackers and online criminals broaden their scope to social networks; users must be vigilant and employ safe practices while engaging in online communities. We are already seeing frequent attacks on social networking sites, and believe that they will only increase as user bases grow,” explains Neil Cook, head of technology, EMEA, Cloudmark.

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About Cloudmark
Cloudmark, Inc. is a global leader in carrier-grade messaging security, delivering the industry’s fastest, most accurate and comprehensive real-time spam, virus and phishing protection for fixed, mobile and social networks. The Cloudmark suite of security solutions simplifies and advances the management of messaging abuse, increasing network utilization and reducing infrastructure costs. Cloudmark’s patented solutions combine Advanced Message FingerprintingTM technology based on innovative, highly efficient algorithms, a Global Threat Network™ consisting of trusted reporters across the globe, real-time, automated analysis of traffic and content patterns, along with security research expertise, to provide real-time security intelligence and filtering across carrier networks. Cloudmark solutions protect more than 850 million subscribers for the world’s largest carrier networks, including over 75 percent of all major service providers in the United States and Japan. Cloudmark’s customers include Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, EarthLink, NEC Biglobe, NTT OCN, Swisscom, Tele2, Thus, and XS4ALL (KPN) as well as leading hosting providers and global social networking companies such as MySpace. Cloudmark is a privately held company headquartered in San Francisco with offices in London, Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong. For more information, visit http://www.cloudmark.com
Cloudmark and the Cloudmark logo are registered trademarks Cloudmark, Inc. in the United States and certain other countries. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the property of their respective owners.

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