Some simple steps to keep you and your children safe online

privacy

After seeing the recent hack on twitter had been nothing more than a patient man with an understanding of the internet, I got to thinking about my own security.

It was fairly common practice to hack a friends email account when I was at school and you don’t need any complicated tools, usually just knowledge of their mothers maiden name or birthplace was enough to get past the “secret question”. How difficult is it to find that information in this day and age?

I am not as addicted to Linkedin and Facebook as some people (Twitter is my vice) but if you can see my profile you can glimmer potentially useful information. If you can find a photo of me with one of my grandparents or see if my mother has a brother you could quite easily work out her maiden name.

So without much effort you could know my mother’s maiden name, my DoB and my email address as well as the city I live in.

For most people a combination of those things could be enough to answer a “secret question” and obtain or change a password.

In today’s age of always online and always open plenty of young people are recording everything they do online. In a few years time it probably won’t be much of a stretch for me to find out your “first pet’s name” or “mother’s birthplace”. Going more extreme than that I could probably build a portfolio about you, what music you like, who your friends are, where you live and when you are not at home.

Scaremongering aside it is important to think about your online security and what you keep online. If you have children, don’t now go and demand they delete any sensitive information or ban them from talking about their lives on Facebook. Instead educate them on why elements of privacy are important. There are simple steps that will not encroach on their usage of social networks.

Simple things like making sure “secret questions” are genuinely secret and that privacy settings are set so that only genuine friends can see private information. Don’t just add anyone who sends a friend request, message them back first and ask who they are.

Don’t feel you need to close the shutters on social networks, they are all about being social and sharing. Young people of today lead very open lives online and just need to be aware of what they are putting online and who can see it. The best way to calm any fears of safety of young people on line is to start using the networks they are using, gain an actual understanding of how the privacy settings work and how they communicate.

Glenn is a 22 year old social media-ite and a very recent “young person”

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