With the recent wave of high-profile data breaches, business hacks, private information dumps, and financial network intrusions, internet security and privacy have gotten quite a bit of press. A lot of the online security basics are pretty well known already. For example, you can try to remove personal information from Google, use strong passwords, don’t open email attachments sent by strangers, and chances are there’s not really a foreign princess waiting to enrich and possibly marry you if only you’d share your account information.
However, there are more specific privacy and security issues that can instigate misery, embarrassment, financial catastrophe, and even loss of your job. For instance, do you know your employer’s BYOD policy? Do you know how to remove personal information from Google? Do you know if your anti-virus/anti-malware software is up to date? The following list outlines some common internet security threats and mistakes and how those threats can be diminished or resolved with a bit of research and a little proactive risk mitigation.
The bring your own device (BYOD) policy can vary 180 degrees from one company to the next. Many smaller (and larger) companies encourage employees using their own devices to work on either in-office or remotely. There are a number of benefits to BYOD. It’s convenient, generally more mobile, and people are often more comfortable on their own devices, to name a few.
However, a lot of organizations expressly forbid the using of personal devices due to security risks. Often personal devices will have a lower level of protection than dedicated company devices and using them can put private, sensitive, proprietary, personal, and financial data at risk. Which means that using those devices, even if nothing bad happens, can sometimes get you fired. If you don’t know your company’s BYOD policy, find out. Ask a manager, and if they don’t know it, they’ll know who will.
Despite data brokering being a multi-billion dollar business, the average person knows next to nothing about data brokers. Every time you do a Google search, or really use the internet at all, data brokers are collecting your information. Those data brokers are organizations that scour and scrape the internet for information about you. Some of it is pretty innocuous, like your name, birthday, age, sex, etc. While some of it is incredibly personal. They buy and sell that information largely for corporate advertising and demographic analysis.
Beyond strangers knowing, buying, and selling your most intimate personal details being creepy, it definitely represents what most people would consider a pretty profound breach of privacy and can be used for nefarious purposes. Fortunately, there are services and organizations you can contract with to remove personal information from Google.
Even if your boss and coworkers are the most fun, most laid-back people imaginable, it’s just not a great idea to “friend” them on social media networks. If you’re curious why, look up the case of the teacher who, while on vacation in Europe, posted to her profile a seemingly innocuous picture of herself holding alcohol. She was fired for it.
The picture had been protected with a privacy setting on “high,” leading to the conclusion that it had to be a “friend” from work who had emailed the shot to the school board. Even if you don’t believe that any of your work friends would report you, do keep in mind that any number of posts, pictures, claims, friends’ comments, etc. can put coworkers and definitely bosses in uncomfortable and unfortunate positions. Sometimes unfortunate enough that they are obligated to let you go.
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