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Tips for Safe and Secure Social Networking

According to US-CERT: "The popularity of social networking sites continues to increase, especially among teenagers and young adults. The nature of these sites introduces security risks, so you should take certain precautions."
  1. Passwords [User focus]
    1. Choose strong, complex passwords.
    2. Choose a unique password for each account.
    3. Never share your passwords.
    4. Never use your password on suspicious third party sites.
  2. Safety and Security [User focus]
    1. Don't reveal too much information about yourself. Depending on the information you reveal, you could become the target of identity or property theft.
    2. Watch what you click! Don't click on suspicious links or pop-up ads that may infect your device with malware or install spyware. (Recent buzz words for this include clickjacking, likejacking, and tabnapping.)
    3. Be wary of scams, such as fake profiles designed to exploit your trust. Scams are no longer limited to e-mails. (And social networking sites don't have spam filters.)
    4. Applications that run on social networking sites might send your information to a third party or spread malware.
    5. Check privacy policies (all social networking sites have them - see privacy policies for Facebook and Twitter below).
    6. Report spam, phishing, or hacking violations.
  3. Policies and Practices [Institution focus]
    1. Consider creating a social networking policy.
    2. Create a website addressing the topic of social networking (see examples from Cornell, NDSU, and RIT below).
    3. Create a social media guideline for employees (see an example developed by the University of Iowa's Human Resource Department below).
    4. Notify your community about recent attacks or exploits affecting social networking sites (e.g., cross-site scripting vulnerabilities, Adobe Flash exploits, etc.)
    5. US-CERT recommends using and maintaining anti-virus software, which may be able to detect and remove a virus before it can do any damage.
  4. Social Networking Primers (for those not familiar with Facebook, Twitter, etc.) [Parent focus]
    1. OnGuard Online offers parents some tips for Kids and Socializing Onlinehttp://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/social-networking-sites.aspx. (There's also a Net Cetera Community Outreach Toolkit.)
    2. David Pogue (New York Times) wrote the article "For Those Facebook Left Behind" that provides a brief overview of several popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, and Yelp.
    3. EDUCAUSE has a series called "7 Things You Should Know About..." which provides concise information on emerging learning technologies. Each brief focuses on a single technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning. Use these briefs for a no-jargon, quick overview of a topic and share them with time-pressed colleagues (see examples of several social networking briefs listed below).
    4. The Department of Defense now offers education and training materials, social media guides, policies, and user agreements through their new DoD Social Media Hub.
Additional Resources for Social Networking Security

Higher Education Resources

Industry & Other Resources


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