Are you sharing your telephone number on Facebook?
You might be and not even realize it.
A few months ago I signed up for Facebook’s Login Approvals, which required my mobile number. Instantly my number was added and set at my default setting.
If my general privacy setting were “Public”, my number could be one of the 2.5 million phone numbers that Brandon Copley recently harvested from Facebook using the site’s new Open Graph Search.
The app developer from Texas admits that users can use privacy settings to hide their number but still believes this is a violation of users’ trust.
“Facebook is denying its users the right to privacy by allowing our phone numbers to be publicly searchable as the default setting,” Copley told TechCrunch. “This means that anyone with my number knows my Facebook contact information. I may have not told my future employer about my Facebook account, but if I called them on my cell phone they can now know how to find me on Facebook.”
To make sure your phone number isn’t public, go to your profile and click on “Update Info”. Click “Edit” next to your “Contact Information” then click on the audience icon and select the level of sharing you want. I chose “Only Me”.This isn’t the only privacy surprise you should expect as Facebook’s Open Graph Search begins rolling out to the site’s one billion users
The simplest way to make sure you’re only sharing what you want to share is to use our new Safe Profile Beta app, which scans your profile and lets you know how much you’re sharing and how to lock down your profile. But keep reading for more information about the search and how to prepare yourself.
Open Graph Search will definitely change the way people look at Facebook. You can sign up for the waiting list here: http://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch
Your friends and their friends will be able to search your information in ways you may not expect. And this tool will likely become the “Google” of social—meaning people will go to it first to discover the people based on interests and location, which could get a bit “creepy.”
Some suggest this tool will make it easier for criminals to find information for phishing attacks or repressive governments to crack down on dissidents. You can see some examples of how married people who “like” prostitutes and government employees who “like” racism here: http://actualfacebookgraphsearches.tumblr.com/
However, the good news is that it’s restricted by your privacy settings most of your friends use Facebook pretty sanely, right?
“90% of users get the basics right and the other 10% are hopeless,” F-Secure Security Advisor Sean Sullivan told me. “When the 90% meets the 10%, de-friend the boneheads. Because soon they will reflect on you.”
Since you will not be able to opt out of Open Graph Search, you might want to take a few more steps to make sure you don’t end up on the bad end of a disturbing search made by a friend, family member or potential employer.
Here’s what to do now:
(If you’re one of the 90% of the Facebook users who gets how to use the site, you can skip to step three for tips that relate specifically to Graph Search.)
1. First of all, never post anything you wouldn’t want to end in your mom’s newsfeed.
This will save you from most embarrassment. This means, no pictures, videos or status updates you wouldn’t want to see on the cover of your hometown newspaper. If you do this, you’ll avoid most—but not all trouble that could result from being on Facebook or in its search.
2. Check your privacy settings and unfriend anyone who doesn’t seem to use the site responsibly
You can get fancy and restrict certain things to certain people, but Facebook’s basic privacy settings are “public” or “friends.” We recommend friends, unless you want to open your profile to end up in the search results of anyone in the world.
Find the lock near the upper right hand corner, click on it and select “See more settings” at the bottom of the menu that pops up.
Change every option for “Who can see my stuff?” and “Who can look me up?” pick “friends”.
3. Scrub you history
You can (and should) limit all of your old posts to just your friends. Once you do this, you cannot undo it. But you can go back and adjust each posts individually.
Click at the top right of any Facebook page and select Privacy Settings Find “Limit the audience for posts I’ve shared with friends of friends or Public?” and click Limit Past Posts. Click ”Limit Old Posts”.
4. Check your likes!
This is where Graph search gets “creepy.” Let’s say you liked a band three years ago or your competitor at work or a boy band as joke. Graph Search doesn’t get the joke. What you’ve liked on Facebook is now much more important. And just as you unfriend anyone who worries, go through your likes and unlike any page you don’t want to be associated with. Unfortunately you need to do this page by page.
Go to your profile, click on “Likes.”
They’re organized chronically, so go back in time and unlike away.
5. Turn on “tag review” and take control of your wall.
The most annoying thing about Facebook is that people can tag you in photos you don’t want to be associated with. You can turn on “tag review” and prevent the photos from showing up to your friends but the tag will still be on the photo unless you “report/remove tag.”
Here’s how to turn on “tag review” so photos you don’t approve don’t show up on your profile.
Click on the wheel in the right-hand corner, click on your privacy settings and then click on Timeline and Tagging on the left menu.
Most people want to allow friends to post on your wall but if protecting your images is your priority, you may want to make it available only for you. Either way, it’s a good idea to select “friends” for “Who can see what others post on your timeline?” This will prevent strangers or even potential mates or employers happening to catch your page right as a friend posted some hilariously sick image on your timeline.
We recommend you turn on “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline?” This won’t stop your friends from tagging you in something embarrassing but it will stop it from showing up on your wall if they do.
We definitely recommend you enable “Review tags people add to your own posts before the tags appear on Facebook?” This so called tag review will keep you from being in ridiculous tagged pictures or posts that show up in search results. Instead of just popping up on your wall the posts will show up in your activity log where you can approve a tag or asked for it to be removed. To get to your “Activity Log” to approve your tags, go to your profile by clicking on your name on the top navigation. Then click on “Activity Log”
Here’s a Facebook video on how to “report/remove” photos or videos you don’t want to be tagged in.
6. If you want to prevent your friends and family from being associated from you, hide them.
On your profile/timeline page, click “Friends”. In the new screen you’ll see an edit button.
Select “Only Me”.
To hide your family, click “About” below your name, work, school and hometown on your timeline. Under “Relationships and Family” select “Edit” and select “Only Me.”
7. If this is too much work, consider moving somewhere you’ll have lots of privacy—Google+.
[Photo by Milica Sekulic]
There wouldn't be billions people online every moment of every day if everyone was getting scammed all the time. Online security is, in many ways, better than ever, as are the sites designed to attract our attention. But exploits and the crooks that want to exploit us still exist, enjoying advanced malware-as-service models proven to steal our data, time and money. And with the awesome number of people online, scams only need to work a tiny percentage of the time to make the bad guys rich. We're sure you're savvy enough to avoid most trouble. But for everyone else you know, here are 5 common scams to look out for. 1. Ransomware. This scam, which F-Secure Labs has been tracking for over 5 years, prospers because it offers incredible returns -- to the scammer. "It estimated it would cost $5,900 (£3,860) to buy a ransomware kit that could return up to $90,000 in one month of operation," the BBC reports. It works like this. You suddenly get a message saying that your files are being held and you need to pay a ransom to release them. Sometimes the scam pretends to be from a police organization to make them extra scary: Anonymous cyber-currencies like bitcoin have made the scam even more appealing. "That's what really enabled the ransomware problem to explode," our Mikko Hypponen said. "Once the criminals were able to collect their ransom without getting caught, nothing was stopping them." They really do take your files and they generally will give them back. Ironically, their reputation matters since people will stop paying if they hear it won't work. Mikko recommends four ways to defend yourself from this -- and almost every scam: Always backup your important files. Ensure software is up-to-date. Be suspicious of message attachments and links in email. Always run updated comprehensive security software. He adds, "Don't pay money to these clowns unless you absolutely have to." 2. Technical support scams. "In a recent twist, scam artists are using the phone to try to break into your computer," reports the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. "They call, claiming to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Microsoft. They say that they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer to trick you into giving them remote access or paying for software you don’t need." Never give anyone who calls you unsolicited your private information or access to your computer. As a matter a fact, don't do that even if the call is solicited. If you feel the call may actually important, ask who they are calling from and then contact the organization directly. For more tips visit the FTC site. 3. Facebook freebies. Free iPad! Free vacation! Free gift card! If it's free, it's on Facebook and it comes from someone you do not know or trust directly, assume it's a scam. At best it's a waste of your time, at worst it could end up costing you money. Unfortunately, there are only two things you can do to avoid these scams. Don't follow people who share crap like this on Facebook and don't click on things that seem too good to be true. "There is no way a company can afford to give every Facebook user a $25.00, $50.00 or $100.00 gift card," Facecrooks, a site that monitors these scams, reminds you. "A little common sense here tells you that something is way off base." So be suspicious of everything on Facebook. Even friends asking for money. 4. Loan scams. Scammers are smart. They know that the more a person is in financial need, the more desperate she or he becomes. For this reason, loans of various kinds -- especially mortgages that are in foreclosure -- are often lures for a scam. Once they have your attention, they may use a variety of tactics to dupe you, the FTC explains. They may demand a fee to renegotiate your loans for lower payments or to do an "audit" of what you're paying. It may even go far enough that they'll ask you directly or trick you into signing over your house to ease the pressure from your creditors. There are many warning signs to look out for. Keep in mind that if you're ever in doubt, the best step is to back off and seek advice. You can also tell the person you're going to get a second opinion on this from a lawyer. If the person you're dealing with insists that you not or freaks out in any other way, it's a good sign you're being taken. 5. Money mule scams. These scams are a variation on the 419 scams where a foreign prince asks you to hold money for him. All you have to do is wire him some first. But in this case you may actually get the money and be used as a tool of organized crime. A money mule illegally transfers money for someone in exchange for some of the take. Many law-abiding people get drawn into this crime while searching for jobs or romance, which is why your should stick to legitimate sites if you're seeking either of those things. Greed and the lure lottery winnings and inheritances is also used as a lure for potential victims. Trust is the most important thing on the internet. Anyone who trusts you too quickly with offers of money or love is probably scamming you. Cheers, Sandra [Image by epSos .de | Flickr]
My wife had to remind me to look up from my smartphone. We were traveling on the one-lane coastal road that connects Sorrento with Italy's Amalfi coast. I looked down and saw the Li Galli islands, which according to local legend are where the sirens beckoned the hero of Homer's Odyssey into the rocks. In Naples, my iPhone had been my tour guide, allowing me to get pizza recommendations from my friend and then scout out when was the best time to eat, according to the reviews. It had brought us to the Museo Cappella Sansevero to see Veiled Christ and helped us chose a gelateria from the hundreds of options. And now I was plotting our visit to the beachfront town of Positano. If you're addicted to your mobile device or checking in online, you know it can improve or ruin your vacation. And missing a great view could be the least of your worries. You should look up from your phone occasionally, but you can stay connected and safe with a few precautions. 1. Lock your devices. You wouldn't leave post-it note with your PIN on your ATM card. So don't invite strangers into your phone to turn off your anti-theft app and start digging through your digital life. Use an unguessable passcode on all your devices and set your devices to lock. 2. Don't bank or shop on a public computer. Strange computers can have strange keyloggers or some other malware that could slurp up your information. (If you have to use a public computer to get on Facebook, for instance, use a one-time password.) 3. Clean up your phone. You hear lots of news reports about how gross and covered with bacteria our phones are. But the inside suffers from the same buildup of crap. "Phones and computers always store information about what you do. Internet browsers store a history," Security Advisor Sean Sullivan told us. "Apps create temporary files where they store stuff to help them run faster. A lot of apps and websites have passwords and contact information about you stored." Our free Booster app makes cleaning your device easy. 4. Assume you're being watched. What do using a ATM and logging into your MacBook Pro both say to crooks? I have money that you could take. While you're sightseeing, you become the sight criminals are seeing. You use a money belt to hold your passports, cash and credit cards -- or you should. So use the same caution whenever looking at a screen. 5. Practice safe Wi-Fi and use a VPN. If you're using someone else's Wi-Fi -- whether you're at a motel, coffee shop or a rental you booked through AirBnB -- it's someone else's Wi-Fi. Even five-star hotel network isn't 100 percent safe. So don't expect others to watch out for you. "You often have to choose between using free Wi-Fi hotspots or paying roaming charges to use your mobile connection," Sullivan said. "Using a VPN like Freedome gives you a secure funnel that lets you use public Wi-Fi connections without assuming the risks." 6. Before you go, store your important passwords and PIN codes in a safe location. Have you ever struggled with forgotten passwords or PIN codes after a relaxing summer break? Why not being a bit smarter this year, so store your passwords in a password manager, and they are there waiting for you when you come back. You can download F-Secure KEY for free for your iPhone, iPad or Android phone here. Cheers, Jason [Photo by Giuseppe Milo | Flickr]
Section 215 of the US Patriot Act has been in the headlines a lot lately. This controversial section was used by the US intelligence agencies to scoop up large quantities of US phone records, among other things. The section had a sunset clause and needed to be renewed periodically, with the latest deadline at midnight May 31st 2015. The renewal has previously been a rubber-stamp thing, but not this time. Section 215 has expired and been replaced by the Freedom Act, which is supposed to be more restrictive and better protect our privacy. And that made it headline news globally. But what does this mean in practice? Is this the end of the global surveillance Edward Snowden made us aware of? How significant is this change in reality? These are questions that aren’t necessary answered by the news coverage. Let’s keep this simple and avoid going into details. Section 215 was just a part in a huge legal and technical surveillance system. The old section 215 allowed very broad secret warrants to be issued by FISA courts using secret interpretations of the law, forcing companies to hand over massive amounts of data about citizens’ communications. All this under gag orders preventing anyone to talk about it or even seek legal advice. The best known example was probably the bulk collection of US phone records. It’s not about tapping phones, rather about keeping track of who called whom at what time. People in US could quite safely assume that if they placed calls, NSA had them on record. The replacing Freedom Act still allows a lot of surveillance, but aims to restrict the much criticized mass surveillance. Surveillance under Freedom Act needs to be more specified than under Section 215. Authorities can’t just tell a tele operator to hand over all phone records to see if they can find something suspicious. Now they have to specify an individual or a device they are interested in. Tele operators must store certain data about all customers, but only hand over the requested data. That’s not a problem, it is pretty much data that the operators have to keep anyway for billing purposes. This sounds good on paper, but reality may not be so sunny. First, Freedom Act is a new thing and we don’t know yet how it will work in practice. Its interpretation may be more or less privacy friendly, time will tell. The surveillance legislation is a huge and complex wholeness. A specific kind of surveillance may very well be able to continue sanctioned by some other paragraph even if section 215 is gone. It’s also misleading when media reports that the section 215 intelligence stopped on June 1st. In reality it continues for at least six months, maybe longer, to safeguard ongoing investigations. So the conclusion is that the practical impact of this mini reform is a lot less significant than what we could believe based on the headlines. It’s not the end of surveillance. It doesn’t guarantee privacy for people using US-based services. It is however an important and welcome signal that the political climate in US is changing. It’s a sign of a more balanced view on security versus basic human rights. Let’s hope that this climate change continues. Safe surfing, Micke Image by Christian Holmér