Rebecca Herold

The Privacy Professor's
Tips of the
Don't get schooled - get educated. 

"Get schooled" definition: To learn a lesson the hard way.


Hijacking your personal information...

Man stealing 

Unfortunately, it's not always this obvious.


Have you noticed that topical internet scams spread like wildfire right after big news events?  For example, immediately following the verdict in the Casey Anthony case, social media was buzzing with posts promising "Breaking news: leaked video of Casey Anthony confessing." That could not be a genuine claim, now could it? When you see something that seems spectacular or grabs your attention but you've never heard word of it before or elsewhere (such as on proper news channels), it's probably fake. In fact, it might be a virus... or something even worse.

If you see a Facebook friend tagged in photo that looks nothing like him/her, it might be an address-hacking scam. The photos are usually extreme or tempting in nature and may accompany a similarly seductive or luring photo description. If you notice a friend tagged in an odd photo, it's best not to click on it, or your name might show up as tagged on that photo next. And, unless you meticulously monitor your wall, you might not even know it right away. Be cautious, take a pause to think before you click, and check your own wall - not just your news feeds - regularly.


Did you know that employers are now regularly doing web-based background checks? Your online reputation (created by social media profiles and forum activities) may be the first career step decision-maker - even before your transcript or references - in whether a company pursues you further as a job candidate. Perform a check of yourself online to make sure it's communicating what it should about you. Also, if you don't know them already, find out your company's requirements and guidelines for using sites like LinkedIn - some don't allow you to use your last name, or even the company's name, in your profile.


If you don't want Facebook to target you with ads based on your face (yes, this is happening) opt out of facial recognition tagging. According to this link, doing so is easier than you think. Speaking of your Facebook settings, many times when they do upgrades, their new features can actually reset your settings and preferences, so each time you learn about an update, check your account settings.

Privacy Professor in the Lab


Recent Experiments...


August means back to school and that has inspired me to learn more, as well. I'm always looking for new ways to increase information privacy and security on behalf of everyone, and sometimes the best way to do that is by undertaking controlled experiments myself.


To see what ads Facebook would use to target me if I altered my location, I changed my home base to one of the most remote spots on earth - Elephant Island, off the coast of Antarctica. Facebook didn't change the ads it posted on my profile - it eliminated them! Seems inhabitants of Elephant Island are not a big marketing target for the social media world. (Who knew???)


Also, I want to warn you: be on the lookout for phone scammers - they are becoming more numerous, more active and more daring.  One unknowing young-sounding man with a suspicious-sounding name and an even more suspicious-sounding premise made the unfortunate mistake of calling me. In an attempt to prove his validity, he spouted off all sorts of "information" about my system (many computer settings are the same or similar). Click here to read about the little trip I took this guy down and how he reacted. 


Tips, tricks and tidbits


Taking a vacation? Your information is particularly at risk while traveling. Instead of using your personal credit cards at a host of various merchants, pay with cash or pre-paid credit cards to avoid opportunities for identity theft.


I just did a free "how to" webinar with ID Experts! It will supply you with metrics to learn how well you're doing with HIPAA/HITECH compliance. Click here to register for the no-cost August 10 event.


Looking for more insight into Smart Grid technology? Click here to read my summary of current issues and considerations.


Did you hear that Google Street View was just busted for grabbing locations of millions of cell phones, laptops and other devices from around the world? 

Read about it here.

My podcast about preventing identity theft for the Q3 issue of Protecting Information is out, and I invite you to listen to it by clicking here.


Check out my free webinar called "10 Risk-Reducing Actions for Mobile HIPAA/HITECH Compliance"by clicking here.  




Whether August finds you on vacation, back to school or hard at work as usual, wishing you continued learning and - as always - continued fun!



Rebecca Herold & Associates, LLC
Mobile: 515.491.1564, Business: 515.996.2199