Going Public on Securing Privacy

It is deliciously ironic that a fellow born with the “stolen” look of Donald Sutherland would be so expert on protecting a person’s identity on social media. But it’s the easygoing, down-to-earth approach of Cisco Senior Security Advisor Christopher Burgess that makes his advice so relatable and believable.

But first, here are eyebrow raising findings from exhaustive surveys of social network users in 21 nations around a world more worried than ever about their online security and privacy:

  • 92%  cite security when opening social network accounts
  • 54%  experience phishing
  • 73%  think employees share too much

“Details thought to be mundane can actually be a gold mine for identity thieves, scammers and other criminals savvy enough to mine social networks for details they can use to target you,” eWEEK’s Brian Prince says.

It goes without saying your web history should remain private as possible, your antispyware/antivirus software should be kept obsessively up to date, and – according to Burgess – your device should never auto-run anything.

“This allows you to run your security software against files… for the presence of malicious software,” he says. “This inspection should occur on all media that has been out of your direct control.”

For any of you parents who trust Burgess’ advice, he stresses data backup is critical for your children, especially those whose entire lives are contained in a laptop hard drive. “Daily data backup will ensure schoolwork is not irretrievably lost.”

But, even more importantly, Burgess comes back full-circle to his expectations of smart online behavior:

  1. Be responsible.  (“Never tweet anything you wouldn’t want your mom to read.” –Kathy Gill)
  2. Abide by rules.  (“With the click of a mouse, somebody could breach regulations.” –Burgess)
  3. Be mindful.  (“You don’t want a burglar to know you’re on a cruise for two weeks.” –Burgess)
  4. Be respectful.  (“Be direct and engaging,” but never click on the links of a ranter.” –Burgess)
  5. Be yourself.  (“There’s only one you, and I’m on your blog right now. So be you.” –Thor Tolo)
  6. Be honest.  (“Truthfulness isn’t a suggestion, but a prerequisite.” –Burgess)
  7. Add value.  (“You’re sharing knowledge so that somebody else can move ahead.” –Burgess)

In 2007, three years after co-founding Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg was slapped on the wrist a second time by millions of users for loosening Facebook’s privacy settings. Yet, proving he’s made of teflon, Zuckerberg that same year won a huge judgment of $711 million against Sanford Wallace for spamming.

Facebook won another spam suit in 2008, soaking in $873 million from Atlantis Blue Capital – just a year before Zuckerberg was castigated a third time for deceptively loosening Facebook’s privacy settings.

According to an exhaustive, almost dizzying documentary aired over the weekend by Bloomberg TV, Facebook filed three more lawsuits against alleged spammers in the span of one week.

It’s almost as if Zuckerberg were playing Rich Man, Poor Man and saying, “OK Facebook fans, would you rather I stop all that spam you’re getting blitzed with, or should I obsess over keeping every ounce of your personal information private?”

Burgess believes that question has an obvious answer. “As [you] sign up for online networks, please make sure all privacy settings begin at ‘Opt out’ – then selectively ‘Opt in’ for those which you desire.”

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About Thor Tolo

Thor came to Seattle in 2004 after seven years anchoring sports and hosting an evening talk show once honored as Pennsylvania’s best at the world’s first radio station KDKA. He covered his fourth Super Bowl as host of "Live From Seattle" before anchoring news for Seattle's KOMO Newsradio. Thor enjoyed an Emmy award winning TV career in Cleveland before hosting mornings on Twin Cities sports station KFAN - the flagship station of the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network he anchored in the mid-1990s. Thor lives in Belltown and is pursuing his Master of Communication in Digital Media (exp. 2012) at the University of Washington.

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