Rebecca Herold

The Privacy Professor's
Tips of the

That famous day for fools is just around the corner. Are you more likely to be the prankster or the victim of someone else's trick come Sunday, April Fool's Day?


Even with our guards up on this infamous holiday, we still run the risk of being fooled by pranksters - or worse yet, savvy criminals who have perfected their nefarious methods. Following are a few privacy tricks, pranks and hoaxes to avoid this month... and well into the future. 

It's Tax Time!

Be Safe When Filing On the Go

Everything an identity thief wants to steal is held in one convenient place - your tax return. And now with mobile options for filing, it's more important than ever that you take necessary steps to secure that coveted info. Here is a great article including tips on doing just that.

Don't Fall for Bogus Refunds

Illegitimate tax preparers are out there right now promising low-income and aging taxpayers the moon. They claim to be able to get people all kinds of breaks and refunds - for a fee, of course. But as the IRS recently warned,"When victims' claims are rejected, their money and the promoters are long gone."

Protecting Your Privacy on (and off) Facebook

Minimum Qualifications: Facebook Password

In the past couple of weeks, media caught wind of a hiring practice large numbers of employers have put into place. They are requesting Facebook passwords from their applicants to consider them for open positions, and asking current employees to hand over their passwords (even with their own "do not share passwords" policies in place). 

There are at least six good reasons employers should NOT do this. I recently wrote about it here on The Privacy Professor Blog.

Whatcha Doing Outside of Facebook?

Thanks to the clever programmers at Facebook, the social media giant - now public and more responsible than ever for reporting accurate user numbers - knows exactly when you open one of their emails. This is particularly interesting because, as PandoDaily points out, it indicates a desire to track its users' behavior even when they are not logged into Facebook.

As they point out, you can exterminate Facebook's email bugs by reading your email outside of Internet Explorer and Outlook.

Don't Judge a 'Friend' by His Photo

Bogus Facebook accounts are a growing problem impacting a wide range of people, from high schoolers battling "mean girls" to NATO officials in charge of national security. There are, fortunately, several ways to spot a fake, and here's an excellent article outlining exactly how.

Starting from Scratch

Often you'll hear identity and privacy experts advise that you close down your Facebook account if it becomes hacked. But what if your account is years old, housing countless contacts, memories, photos and videos? Fortunately, there is a way to back up all of that information, so it will be at the ready should you ever need to rebuild your Facebook account or if you simply want to keep all those past posts. 

A Bite from the Poison Apple 


Bobbing for Apples' Customers

Phishing schemes are still functioning. Why? Because they are simple, cheap... and most importantly for the crooks behind them, they work. Here's an example of a recent email I received. Any Apple customers could be fooled into thinking this phishing scheme was legitimate. If you get a similar email or instant message, don't fall for this scam!

Thank you for shopping at Apple Store.

Here is a notice that your Order Number: W243543543 has been successfully charged to your credit card for 4,545.54 USD.

Please CLICK HERE to see your ORDER.

Your Apple Store Customer Service Team


Watching Your Every Move

It can be relaxing to visit a place where no one knows you - to unplug completely and enjoy the anonymity of the moment. But a new iPhone app may put a quick end to that. Called Highlight, the app alerts users when they are physically near people with whom they share even the slightest of connections, such as the same hometown. Many "free" apps are actually hoping to cash in on all the personal information they collect for such apps. Think twice about the privacy implications of such cool new apps before you start using them. 

Backing Up iPhone Data

120,000 cell phones are lost annually in Chicago taxi cabs. That's just one of many cities in our increasingly mobile world. If you anticipate being among the unfortunate souls to lose (or have stolen) your cell phone (and it can happen to any of us), take a few minutes to learn how to back up your iPhone and IPad data.

Speaking of lost phones, what would you do if you found a smartphone? My friend, Scott Wright, is doing some very interesting research to find out. His new analysis report, "Smartphone Honey Stick Project," reveals 96 percent of people finding lost smartphones in his experiment looked through the data. And 89% tried using the apps! Here's a really cool infographic that summarizes the stats in the report.

 Privacy Professor on the Air, in the Twittersphere & at the Podium

Des Moines media were excited to cover Iowa's Data Privacy Day, and I was equally thrilled to help them do so. Here are a few TV clips showing my interviews with Iowa reporters.

How exciting to be named a top tweeter! Prof. Rebecca Herold was named to the WorldWideLearn.com list of Top 50 Law Professors on Twitter.

I'm also looking forward to teaching a 2-day training course in Seattle April 2 & 3 at The Seattle ISACA-Puget Sound Chapter Spring Seminar Information Security and Privacy Collaboration

Many of you have your own skill sets and expertise where data security and privacy are concerned. I encourage you to get out there and share your knowledge, whether that's with your local (or even national) media, at a conference or inside of the growing social media circles dedicated to privacy.

As the weather warms up, the privacy and information security risks will heat up as crooks take advantage of people relaxing and traveling. Stay aware, be safe out there and enjoy your spring!

All the best, 
Rebecca Herold & Associates, LLC
Mobile: 515.491.1564, Business: 515.996.2199