Monday, July 8, 2013

What's Really In Those Privacy Statements?

The first step to protecting your privacy is often in what seems like 8 point font on a small screen.  That pesky privacy policy always pops up at the worst time - when you just want to get into the app.  You click “ok” or “accept” and move on, never to actually READ the privacy policy.  So to most of us, privacy is a mystery or we just assume we don’t have any, right?   
Many people sheepishly admit to us “I never really read that thing” some might even say, “What’s the point?”   Admittedly, some of these policies are long, confusing, and really hard to follow.  

Your Privacy Policy Questions Answered:

1.  I clicked on “accept” and now I want to go back and read the privacy policy, how do I find it?

Go to your favorite search engine and type in the name of the social network + privacy policy.  Or sometimes you might see a link to “Our Privacy Policy” or “Terms of Service” on the bottom of the home page of the site.

2.  What am I looking for in the Privacy Policy?
If the site allows minors, do they do anything special for minors to protect their data from predators, marketers, and strangers?
What information does the company collect about me?  Who do they share it with?
Do they use cookies?
Do I have any “opt out” choices?

3.  How do I make sense of a particular policy?
It’s not always easy but we found a guide that is a great new research tool for ANYONE that goes online.  The guide is called the CATSMI project for  “The Canadian Access to Social Media Information Project”.  It lists over 20 popular social media services.   CATSMI is super easy to use.  Just click on "Learn About..." -> "A Network" and choose the social media network that you want to learn more about.

What’s great about this new research that’s online, you can search by a site such as “Disney Club Penguin” or “Tumblr” or search by question such as, “Does the PII collected change depending on whether you’re an adult or a child?” and the site will display that answer by the social media network.  Note to parents:  Facebook and YouTube say they collect personally identifiable information about kids the same as difference.  

CATBEARDING:  It’s an internet meme where people get their cat to snuggle with them so the bottom of their face is right under your nose making it look like you have a beard on.  They then post their catbearding photo to photo sharing and social networking sites.  

To learn more about the CATSMI project go to:

To see some examples of catbearding go to:

Cybercriminals coming to a phone charger near you? Researchers say maybe...

The simplicity of chargers, especially ones that you can use for multiple devices, is appealing.  Something is running low on a battery, you just plug it in.  You never really give a charging plug much thought do you?  It either works or it doesn’t.  But what if it does more than you expected?

The good news is, the good guys found a new vulnerability in an iPhone charger and they are going to tell other good guys what to do to fix it.  The bad news is, who would have thought they had to worry about the plug being used to infect their computer?

A group of good guy researchers are at it again and this time they are at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  In a recent announcement they said they can turn your iPhone charger into a stealth malicious code monster that can hack your phone.  The good guys will talk about how the hack works at a security conference.

According to a report on Mashable, the researchers purposely used inexpensive technology to prove this was not expensive to do.  They estimate that they spent $45 on a product called a BeagleBoard which is a simple type of computer.  

Once you plug your iPhone to the infected plug, it takes them less than a minute to infect the phone.  No user interaction required!

The good guys have shared their findings with Apple.  

How can you protect yourself?
For now, only purchase or use plugs that you know are from an official Apple store and are not 2nd or 3rd hande.

Word of the week:
Clueful:  Want to know how your apps reveal your privacy?  Get a clue with Clueful.  The app shows you how apps snoop and snitch on you.  Learn more about this app at:

The researchers share the summary of their upcoming speech here:

Forbes spoke with the researchers in this article:

Tips for Safer Instagramming

Instagram - it’s hot and according to WBTV’s cyber expert, Theresa Payton, when she asked middle school kids - boys and girls - what they will use the most on their school break they answered Instagram.  Surprised?  So were we so we thought it would be a good idea to share some tips with you on how you and the kids can have a great time on Instagram while protecting your privacy and security.  

Who doesn’t love Instagram?  You can take, share, comment, and even spruce up your photos.  It’s easy, free and fun!  But there are a few tips that can make your experience even more fun while protecting the privacy and security of your loved ones.  

Some Quick Tips for Safer Instagramming Fun!

Tip #1 - Instagram has  a minimum age of 13

However, it doesn’t ask you to specify your age.   

Tip #2 - What should I watch for

Posting any photos that might put you in a negative light - silly, unprofessional, unflattering.  Digital is forever.  Read the privacy policy often as it does change.   

Tip #3 - Is there a Private Account or is everything just Public?

You should know that the public account option means anyone can follow you.
You can set up a private account so you should talk to any young Instagram users about this option.  Keep in mind your kids probably want to a “following” so they might resist this setting.  Regardless of what you choose, make sure you have a strong password for this account that you have not used on another social media account.

Tip #4 - If you have kids at home, tell them to teach you how to use Instagram by sharing an account together at first

Tip #5 - You can set each photo to the privacy control that you are comfortable with by choosing Profile and then turning on Photos are Private.  You can also turn off location sharing.  If you do turn location sharing to on for a photo, remember to turn it off afterwards for future posts.  

Tip #6 - If you have a negative experience, you can report block the person’s account, report it, and untag yourself in any of the photos that they post.  Instagram has an easy “Report Inappropriate” option below photos and if you need help, you can go to their Help Center.  

Instagram has VERY helpful tips for those that want to understand their privacy and security options a little better.  They also have a support section dedicated to parents that want to know more about how to protect their kids on Instagram.

FOMO:  This is leetspeak for the “Fear of Missing Out” usually in reference to missing something happening on social media because you are focused on other things.  For those with internet addiction disorder this can be a very difficult feeling to cope with.  However, if you want some humor on the matter, can see a fake movie trailer for “FOMO - The Terrifying Social Truth” on at

Are You Paying Attention to the Yahoo email recycling project?

Segment 186 Yahoo recycles old email accounts

Have you set up a Yahoo id as a back up email address but haven’t used it for a while?  Where tonight there’s a warning you need to know!  Yahoo plans to recycle Yahoo user IDs that have been inactive for a year or more. Although Yahoo says they are going to great lengths to protect you, security experts are concerned about unintended impacts.  
Yahoo has been very open about this practice giving everyone plenty of time to plan.  They released a statement that said:
“We’re committed and confident in our ability to do this in a way that’s safe, secure and protects our users’ data. It’s important to note that the vast majority of these inactive Yahoo! IDs don’t have a mailbox associated with them. Any personal data and private content associated with these accounts will be deleted and will not be accessible to the new account holder.”

They also said:
“To ensure that these accounts are recycled safely and securely, we’re doing several things. We will have a 30-day period between deactivation and before we recycle these IDs for new users. During this time, we’ll send bounce back emails alerting senders that the deactivated account no longer exists. We will also unsubscribe these accounts from commercial emails such as newsletters and email alerts, among others. Upon deactivation, we will send notification for these potentially recycled accounts to merchants, e-commerce sites, financial institutions, social networks, email providers and other online properties.”

Yahoo has done a great job communicating this but do not ignore this information if you ever set up a Yahoo account in the past.

For example, if you linked your Yahoo email ID to any sites as a recovery email and you request a password reset on a social media account, your bank account, another email address --  it will go to someone else.  You might have done this so long ago that you might have forgotten it!

1.  Go to all of your important accounts - banking, social media, email, etc. and go to the security settings to see what email addresses you have set up there

2.  Go to Yahoo and decide whether or not you want to keep that account - all it takes is to send / receive some emails and logging in to keep it active

Zero Access
This refers to a trojan malware that so far only impacts Windows machines and not Macs.  It’s been know to be found hiding on websites that are trusted so just be careful what you click on.   If you are worried you might have this trojan on your computer, Symantec offers a free removal tool at


Anonymous online? Think again.

A reminder about the Golden Rule and you can’t really be anonymous online

You teach your kids to treat other people according to the Golden Rule and you have taught them that you really aren’t “anonymous” online and now a new court case can help you drive that point home.  

2 Swedish teenage girls, ages 15 and 16, were found guilty of aggravated defamation.  Their crime?  They made derogatory comments of a sexual nature on Instagram using an anonymous account.   Not only do they have to do 45 hours of community service each, they must pay their victims roughly $2000 each for any distress they caused

The young ladies were found guilty of negative slurs.

It all started when one of the young ladies posted a note asking "which young people are the worst sluts in Gothenburg,”

When she received posts back along with photos, she published the photos along with negative comments

The posts went viral and then went back into the physical world when kids began to fight at the high schools

1.  Share an account with them until you are sure they are mature enough to handle social media accounts alone
2.  Monitor their posts
3.  Remind them of the Golden Rule
4.  Show them this court case

The courts are struggling to keep up with these cases.  Two teens in the U.S. were found guilty of rape after their videotaping of a sexual assault was posted on social media accounts.

A great site to visit with your teen to hammer the point across to think twice before you post is the site ( )

No, it’s not a site about eating’s a a new social network for pet lovers!  It was launched in the UK and France first and it’s not available for US users yet but you can check out the site and use some limited features.  It’s designed to be the only petwork you’ll ever need to socialize, find a vet, find products, and connect with other pet lovers.