Social networking Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace make it easy to meet people on a personal or professional level. By providing personal information using blogs, chat, email, or instant messaging, you can meet new friends and communicate with others who share your interests. However, digital relationships can be deceptive. Watch out for computer security dangers such as phishing schemes, spyware downloads, and Internet fraud. Never share your password with anyone or provide credit card or social security numbers insecurely. Remember: Information you share online potentially available to the world—friends and strangers alike. Although social networking sites create an illusion of intimacy, they are not private. They are easily accessible not only to school administrators, potential employers, and law enforcement officials—but to scam artists and criminals. If you use social networks, you should also be aware that what you post may not be appropriate, may be misinterpreted, or may cause harm to your reputation. Some individuals have been expelled from school, lost out on great job offers, or had grad school admissions withdrawn because of pictures or statements they posted. Others have become the victims of stalking, identity theft, or other crimes.
Learn more about social networking and how you can protect yourself:
- Online social networking Web sites may reveal more than students realize, by Ken Gore, Penn State Live
- Staying Safe on Social Networking Sites, by US-CERT, United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team
- Thoughts on Facebook, by Tracy Mitrano, Director of IT Policy and Computer Policy & Law Program, Cornell University
- Don't fall for a phishing scam
Important: Windows XP and Mac OS X have built-in firewalls. It is important to ensure your firewall is enabled for complete protection. Many Linux or other UNIX-based systems also have firewall or filtering capabilities that should be enabled.