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by Bob Gilmore - Wednesday, 18 July 2018, 4:52 PM
Anyone in the world

Protecting your privacy on social media

Bob Gilmore
16 July 2018


The internet has opened our eyes to a whole world of new opportunities, from business to our personal lives. But take a look at any news programme and you’ll likely hear stories of privacy breaches and information sharing scams. This happens across the Internet and social media platforms, but one of the biggest ones creating headlines today is Facebook privacy and security with bugs sharing user content to the world and breaches of security exposing user data. Facebook is an extremely useful tool, so going cold turkey is not an option for many people. The question then becomes, what can I do to protect myself?

But why does this happen?

The Internet is full of free stuff. The stuff stays free because the creators are selling advertising to their customers. The more data about you they have, the better value the advertising becomes; they can more accurately target you with ads you might actually click on.

Almost every game, quiz or survey wants to hook into Facebook these days. Play on-line with your friends or let them know just how awesome you are at 70's music trivia. These things can be fun, however they are often intended as data gathering tools, designed to find out information about you.

And it's not always about advertising and selling you stuff. Scammers and hackers can use this information for a variety of reasons. The most high-profile example recently is the Cambridge Analytica breach made use of surveys to target Facebook users in the 2017 US elections.

So what can we do to protect ourselves while still enjoying the free stuff?

Facebook privacy and security settings

Note that this blog was written in July 2018. Facebook regularly updates its security settings; if things have changed use Google search for the latest updates.
What can others see?

It's sometimes useful to see what your Facebook page looks like publicly or to specific friends.

  • Click your profile button, then click the  button on your cover image and chose View as.


Profile information

Your profile contains information like your gender, date of birth and more. Most people like getting birthday greetings and advertising which schools they went to or where they work. You can, however, selectively hide any of this from your time line.

  • Click your profile button then click About.

There are lots of settings in here. The settings are grouped into categories, for example the Contact and basic info category shown below. From here you can add or edit details and choose who can see those details.

  • Choose a category to view or edit.
  • To add information, click the appropriate + Add button, for example the to add a mobile phone.
  • To edit information, hover the mouse over it. A new Edit option will appear, with an icon indicating the current privacy setting. Clicking edit will let you change the information and also who is allowed to see it.
You should always hide your primary Facebook email address or phone number; the one you use to log in with. If this information is public, then you've given away half of what a hijacker needs to gain access to your account.


Privacy

Several other core privacy features are located in the Privacy Settings page.

  • Click the Facebook menu button and choose Settings.
  • Click the Privacy group of settings.
  • Each setting has an Edit button where you can control who sees specific information.
  • By far one of the most important controls is "Who can see your friends list?" This should be set to Friends or Only me. This one setting is used by so many malicious apps and scammers to spread around their wares.
  • You should probably also set your email and phone to Friends and turn off search, unless you're using Facebook for publicity.

Security

Facebook can be deeply personal to a lot of people, containing memories, favourite photos, friends come and gone. Making sure you are never locked out of your account and that it is secure is therefore something most people should consider.

  • As with privacy, the security features are in the Facebook menu under Settings, then Security and login.
  • Most of the time, you can reset your password if you have the same phone or email you signed up with. Choosing friends to help when you're locked out is an extra layer of safety if your account is ever unable to be accessed.
  • This is where you change your Facebook password.

Apps and websites

This last set of privacy and security settings gives you control over which apps you have linked to your Facebook account, allowing you to see and remove them. It's worth reviewing this page regularly to check what has access and if you really want that access to continue.

Conclusion

Facebook privacy and security is a big topic and there is lots happening! The settings outlined above are a sample of the most important ones to consider. There are still going to be bugs in the software that cause issues and there will still be security breaches. However armed with these tools you can make a start protecting your own data from the most common threats.

Finding the balance between security and convenience has been an area of concern for as long as we've tried to lock stuff away. Taking the time to look over your Facebook page and its settings helps you find the balance that is right for you and also for your friends. You can't break anything, so get in there and have a look!

[ Modified: Friday, 20 July 2018, 10:10 AM ]
 
Picture of Bob Gilmore
by Bob Gilmore - Monday, 16 July 2018, 11:30 AM
Anyone in the world

Protecting your privacy on social media

Bob Gilmore
16 July 2018

Contents

{ Not for Moodle - Moodle drops the id's! }


The internet has opened our eyes to a whole world of new opportunities, from business to our personal lives. But take a look at any news programme and you’ll likely hear stories of privacy breaches and information sharing scams. This happens across the internet and social media platforms, but one of the biggest ones creating headlines today is Facebook.

Facebook privacy and security is back in the news again with bugs sharing user content to the world and breaches of security exposing user data. Facebook is an extremely useful tool, so going cold turkey is not an option for many people. The question then becomes, what can I do to protect myself?

But why does this happen?

The Internet is full of free stuff. The stuff stays free because the creators are selling advertising to their customers. The more data about you they have, the better value the advertising becomes; they can more accurately target you with ads you might actually click on.

Almost every game, quiz or survey wants to hook into Facebook these days. Play on-line with your friends or let them know just how awesome you are at 70's music trivia. These things can be fun, however they are often intended as data gathering tools, designed to find out information about you.

Linking the results of a fun quiz to Facebook is a win for both Facebook and the quiz maker. Both sides get more information about you than they had before. That you're interested in taking a quiz on 70's music not only indicates the type of music you like, but it can also reveal information about your personality type, political interests and more.

And it's not always about advertising and selling you stuff. Scammers and hackers can use this information for a variety of reasons.

The Cambridge Analytica breach made use of surveys that attempt to determine your ocean score: how you rate according to the big five psychological traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. On top of this, they get the information Facebook already knows. This depends on exactly what you've shared with Facebook, but usually includes gender, age, likes and more. Even worse, against Facebook's own rules, they then gathered information about the friends of those who completed the surveys.

For Cambridge Analytica, it then became relatively easy to target specific Facebook users and attempt to stir up specific emotions with the intention of exerting pressure on the outcome of the 2017 US elections.

The thing is, we like to play games and do fun quizzes, so what can we do to protect ourselves while still enjoying the free stuff? There are also good reasons to use Facebook's connection features beyond entertainment. Security is hard and getting it wrong is potentially a huge embarrassment, as anyone caught up in the Ashley Madison breach will tell you.

At least Facebook, Google and Microsoft (the big three security providers) have dedicated security teams. Using their security to access apps and websites make sense. It also means you do not have accounts scattered and forgotten across the Internet which could become a problem later.

Facebook privacy and security settings

This document was written in July 2018. Facebook regularly changes what settings are available and where they are located, so if you can't find a setting mentioned here, use the Google search engine to track it down.
All the images were taken on a desktop PC. You may have to hunt around a little to find these settings on the mobile apps available from the Apple Store or Google Play, but they are all there. Again, Google is your friend when tracking these down.
What can others see?

It's sometimes useful to see what your Facebook page looks like publicly or to specific friends.

  • Click your profile button, then click the  button on your cover image and chose View as.


Profile information

Your profile contains information like your gender, date of birth and more. Most people like getting birthday greetings and advertising which schools they went to or where they work. You can, however, selectively hide any of this from your time line. That way people can wish you a happy birthday, without knowing how old you actually are!

  • Click your profile button then click About.

There are lots of settings in here. The settings are grouped into categories, for example the Contact and basic info category shown below. From here you can add or edit details and choose who can see those details.

  • Choose a category to view or edit.
  • To add information, click the appropriate + Add button, for example the to add a mobile phone.
  • To edit information, hover the mouse over it. A new Edit option will appear, with an icon indicating the current privacy setting. Clicking edit will let you change the information and also who is allowed to see it.

You should always hide your primary Facebook email address or phone number; the one you use to log in with. If this information is public, then you've given away half of what a hijacker needs to gain access to your account.
Privacy

Several other core privacy features are not in the About page, instead they are located in the Privacy Settings page.

  • Click the Facebook menu button and choose Settings.

  • Click the Privacy group of settings.


  • Each setting has an Edit button where you can control who sees specific information.
  • By far one of the most important controls is "Who can see your friends list?" This should be set to Friends or Only me. This one setting is used by so many malicious apps and scammers to spread around their wares. With this setting locked down, you are significantly less likely to be a target and less likely to accidentally spread problems if you are targeted. It's not foolproof; if your friends don't also lock down this setting then some information, such as Mutual Friends, sneaks through.
  • You should probably also set your email and phone to Friends and turn off search, unless you're using Facebook for publicity.
Security

Facebook can be deeply personal to a lot of people, containing memories, favourite photos, friends come and gone. Making sure you are never locked out of your account and that it is secure is therefore something most people should consider. Unfortunately, these options are often quite technical, so just a quick overview of them follows.

  • As with privacy, the security features are in the Facebook menu under Settings, then Security and login.

Hrm, that's a worry, I've haven't been to Blackball recently! The location can be doubtful sometimes, especially on the West Coast and even more so if you're like me and never turn location services on.

  • This is where you change your Facebook password.
  • App passwords is a useful feature. With this setting activated, logging into your Facebook account from another site or app will use a different password from your normal Facebook password. This makes it less likely malicious sites or apps can gain access to your account.

  • Most of the time, you can reset your password if you have the same phone or email you signed up with. Choosing friends to help when you're locked out is an extra layer of safety if your account is ever unable to be accessed. This might be because you have forgotten your details or perhaps lost your phone you sign in with. You'll need three to five friends or family members you trust to set up this feature.

Apps and websites

This last set of privacy and security settings gives you control over which apps you have linked to your Facebook account, allowing you to see and remove them.

It's worth reviewing this page regularly to check what has access and if you really want that access to continue.

Conclusion

Facebook privacy and security is a big topic and there is lots happening! The settings outlined above are a sample of the most important ones to consider. There are still going to be bugs in the software that cause issues and there will still be security breaches. However armed with these tools you can make a start protecting your own data from the most common threats.

Finding the balance between security and convenience has been an area of concern for as long as we've tried to lock stuff away. Taking the time to look over your Facebook page and its settings helps you find the balance that is right for you and also for your friends. You can't break anything, so get in there and have a look!

To anyone who understands information theory and security and is in an infuriating argument with someone who does not (possibly involving mixed case), I sincerely apologize.

https://www.xkcd.com/936/

[ Modified: Wednesday, 18 July 2018, 4:42 PM ]
 
Picture of Bradain Ramsay
by Bradain Ramsay - Wednesday, 1 November 2017, 6:26 PM
Anyone in the world

I struggled to deliver the presentation in the given time frame because I was working at the same time. This made me realise that in the workplace, if I was given a task like this, I would really have to priorities to get it done. I also made the mistake of reading my tutors email wrong and not taking the day off work. I also didn't feel that this topic was that unfamiliar because when I was younger I experienced a lot of older ways to access entertainment so I knew a lot of the changes, The problem I often have when I'm writing a report is I get carried away reading about the topic but with this because the content was familiar I couldn't engage with it. This led to me getting distracted a lot more than usual. To combat this next time I would write what I knew and then research and add in details I didn't. 

My thoughts on the topic were that I felt disinterest in the subject as it was a familiar topic however I felt that was good considering the short time frame. I added a section on games which isn't something I'm that interested in and people noticed that as I was presenting so next time I would omit a topic that bored me and try find something that does interest me. I do think that the topic was relevant but since I knew a lot about it and have seen similar presentations before I was disinterested. 

I found this assessment to be one of the least enjoyable I've done, not due to the assessment itself but because I disliked my topic and I was working at the same time which meant I had to do it after work and in the weekend and I wasn't very motivated. I did like that it was a familiar format, do some research then write a presentation, it meant I didn't have to stress as much and let me focus on the research rather than trying to work out how to lay it out, how to structure it, etc. I personally struggle to lay out slides nicely and fit content on, I think this was probably one of my better looking presentations.

For time management I did a couple of hours work a night on this presentation but since I was disengaged it would take me a while to get into the "zone" while working on my report. I would have been better to devote an entire afternoon and evening to the report and get it out of the way as that would have meant less stopping and starting. I thought my presentation went well but the content seemed boring to me, next time I'm given a topic I don't enjoy I would try find an aspect of the topic which was more engaging. I spoke a bit fast to start with in the presentation but slowed down when I felt more settled, I also didn't know my content that well due to a lack of time to memorise it so next time I would to spend more time practicing the presentation. That led me to use a lot of filler words which I find irritating during a presentation so again next time I would aim for more practice. 

What I took the most out out of this assessment was that overall it went well but because I felt like I didn't learn anything new and because some of my content bored me I didn't feel like I'd achieved or gained anything from this presentation. Had I not known the topic it may have been difficult to complete the assignment within a week but I'd rather have had an assignment I had to work on longer and learnt more from. 

[ Modified: Sunday, 5 November 2017, 1:07 PM ]
 
Picture of Lauren Jarvis
by Lauren Jarvis - Tuesday, 4 April 2017, 9:47 AM
Anyone in the world
Hi everyone, as part of my ICT diploma i need to research a topic relating to IT. I have decided to research peoples online shopping habits this excludes food and groceries, could you please take a couple of minutes to complete my survey. Thank you.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe5Pe53Lj5SfHgx269bXKZILHJQcLhg0g5neXoZXeSbXq7vCA/viewform
 
Picture of Lauren Jarvis
by Lauren Jarvis - Friday, 24 March 2017, 1:29 PM
Anyone in the world
The topic i have chosen to research is "Are people spending more money shopping online than shopping locally". I have chosen this subject because I tend to shop online a lot more than I do locally due to the lack of shops we have; I am curious to see if other people who have access to a wider variety of shops still choose to shop online or not. I plan on getting people to complete a survey so I can get an overview of peoples shopping habits. My hypothesis is that more people will shop online rather than locally.
[ Modified: Tuesday, 28 March 2017, 9:11 AM ]
 
Picture of Bradain Ramsay
by Bradain Ramsay - Thursday, 23 March 2017, 11:35 AM
Anyone in the world

My hypothesis is that people feel safer buying illicit substances on the darkweb. I want to research this because as part of the course last year I had to do a report on using tor which lead me to researching the darkweb and I found in my research that this is one of the main reasons people use the dark web. 

 
Picture of Bradain Ramsay
by Bradain Ramsay - Thursday, 1 September 2016, 1:43 PM
Anyone in the world

Today we connected up the computers to a peer to peer (P2P) network. This came with many problems. First of all we couldn't get the computers on the network but this was solved when we realised the witch had to be turned on. Secondly we couldn't get out computers to connect together even through ping which we worked out was due to the firewall blocking the other computers. Then we still could not get our computers to join the home-group which was not a problem we could solve so we moved onto the work-group which still had problems. We couldn't get the computers to pick up folders from other computers which had been set to share and when we tried to access other computers we had to provide a use name and password which was no good because that would mean having to set up an account on each computer that the password could be shared. This would have worked but been inconvenient. We found that you could change a setting which stopped a password being required therefore allowing access to the shared network folders.

Currently we have not been able to set up a home-group and we are unsure why.   

 
Picture of Bradain Ramsay
by Bradain Ramsay - Monday, 29 August 2016, 9:12 AM
Anyone in the world

Last week the main thing we worked on for the networking assessment was fixing faulty cables which caused us some troubles. First of all at some points during testing various wires where open but then during the next test they where closed. Tom however has found this is because of faulty biscuits. The problem I worked the most on last week was a cat cable which had some of the wires open. On inspection the wiring at the patch panel looked fine but after rewiring the biscuit end of the cable several times we re-inspected the patch panel and realised the wires where only sitting in the patch panel biscuit because they had been cut at the inside of the biscuit rather than the outside. We then re-wired the patch panel end and this solved our problem. 

For the rest of the day I made patch panels to connect the pc's to the network which I have recently found out despite several of them working last week none of these work now. I am wondering if the cables where stood on or squished at some point during the week since they where made. 



[ Modified: Thursday, 1 September 2016, 1:17 PM ]
 
Picture of Bradain Ramsay
by Bradain Ramsay - Friday, 19 August 2016, 1:03 PM
Anyone in the world

Last Friday for the first half of the day I was the team leader for the networking project. There was only three of us in class that day (me, Archie and Rhys), I thought we worked well together as a team. The mistake I made as team leader was focusing on one room at a time because this meant during my turn we mostly finished the larger of the two rooms and because of this for the second half of the day (with Archie as team leader) we had already wired up the ethernet ports and the task that needed to be done was tidying the cables in the smaller room. Unfortunately there was not enough space in the room for all three of us to work at once and meant most of the time one person was working while the other two tried to find something to keep busy. If I was to do this job again I would take on board Tom's suggestion and have had one person in each room working and the third person assisting these two when necessary. Also I would have not left as much slack on the cat cables. I did this because I was worried we would make mistakes and have to remove some of the cables length but I left too much however, when these cables are trimmed the trimmings could be kept and made into the patch leads we will need to wire computers to the network. Also thanks to this extra slack we made less progress than we should have because we could not start wiring the switch until the cables had been tidied and cut to length so that they where not too long and messy behind the switch cabinet.  

 
Picture of Bradain Ramsay
by Bradain Ramsay - Thursday, 11 August 2016, 2:53 PM
Anyone in the world
Working under Tane's leadership for the past two Fridays was good. Tane got hands on himself with the project as well as leading. The main task was creating patch leads to connect the switch and the ports which run to the wall. We also began to wire the room. Making the patch leads took a bit longer than expected but we got there eventually.