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NCSAM Tip #1: Social Networking Safety

October 3, 2011
at 5:00 am PST

In today’s Cyber Security Awareness Month Tip of the Day we revisit a past post to once again focus on the fact that millions of individuals are victims of their own carelessness by freely posting information such as vacation plans and family photos on social networks, and by storing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as medical records and financial information on mobile devices. Users are sometimes not sufficiently educated when it comes to what types of information should be shared, and with whom they should be sharing this information.

It is highly recommended, especially in the case of minors, not to provide personal details such as gender, complete birth dates (including year of birth), home addresses, family photographs, and name and location of schools currently attending. In addition, there are settings in applications such as Facebook that can be leveraged to minimize the amount of “Friends” that are allowed to view your personal information. The following image indicates that only Facebook “Friends” are able to see the information that you care to share.

Following are some additional guidelines when posting and sharing personal information via social networks:

  1. Do not share too much information -- in other words, include the minimum amount of information. For example, chances are your “Friends” should already know if you are male or female! Here is a non-exhaustive list of personal information that should NOT be shared.
    • Your age
    • Your gender
    • Your Social Security number
    • Your street address
    • Your phone number
    • Family financial information – bank account and credit card numbers
  2. Do not post pictures, video, or words that can damage a reputation (including your own!) or hurt someone’s feelings.
  3. Pictures, particularly with EXIF data embedded, should be avoided if at all possible. EXIF data may include, among other things, date, time, and GPS location data of photos, which could provide details of where you live, go to school, or work.
  4. Tagging photos – restrict who is able to see your photos.
  5. Post only information that you are comfortable with other people (meaning potentially EVERYONE!) seeing.
  6. Do not post information about upcoming trips, vacations, etc. Share where you’ve been, not where you are going! To keep it simpler, always post in “past tense”!
  7. Reputation – once information is posted, it is available for reference by others FOREVER!
  8. Remember…. Teachers, parents, coaches, college recruiters, prospective employers, and the police may end up seeing the information you post! Are you sure you want to take that chance???

Please take some time to think about the information you post to web sites or social networks prior to doing so, because once it’s “out there” it is “out there” for good!

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1 Comments.


  1. Excellent discussion about social networking safety

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